In the book of Genesis, all of the created world "in all their array" is made by the time the reader gets to the sixth day (Gen 2:1), yet we know that the week comes to its true completion when God rests on the Holy day, which is the seventh. There is thus a semblance of completion on the sixth day, because the sixth day stands at the threshold of a greater completion, which is signified by the convergence between God's blessing and the seventh day.
It is important to note that, in the Patristic literature, this seven part frame of reference is not just a way to understand time in terms of a week, but also in terms of historical epochs. St. Augustine, for instance, referred to history in terms of a sevenfold division
Writing on the Seraphic Doctor in his The Theology of History in St Bonaventure, Joseph Ratzinger evinces an interest in the sixth day, the time in which we occupy between the incarnation and the end of the age. This sixth age stands as a borderland, a "mysterious border-line area which separatest he perilous present time from that age of the Sabbath Rest which is yet to come within the framework of this world.
This understanding of the number 6 as a kind of faux-completion should bring new light to the faux-liturgy of buying and selling that surrounds the second beast seen from Revelation 13:11 onwards, in which those who worship the beast are marked with its number, namely 666. There is an almost mesmerising faux-holiness when it comes to the second beast and the other beast of which the second is a delegate. this aura of holiness is bound up with the use of the triple use of the number 6. For 6 may have the appearance of completion, when in actual fact it is but a threshold towards a true completion which is only found in God (which in turn is numerically signified by the number 7).
While many pop references look at this number as a code for conspiracies to implant chips or the like, such analyses forget another important link between the number "6" and holiness, which is found in the book of Genesis. But a return to this understanding that we stand in a sixth age might give a new inflection on the precariousness of the times in which we live, where promises of completion and wholeness which abound in our culture and in the blathering of the political classes, elide the reality that we are still awaiting a time in which "perfection comes" and where "all imperfect things will be done away with" (1 Cor 13:10). To treat the imperfections and the imcompleteness of the artifacts of this world and give them the status of an endstate would be little different to the idolatry that we see in Revelation 13.
Labels: Augustine, Benedict XVI, bible, books