In Biblical interpretation, there are some who engage in a practice called "prooftexting" which is "the practice of using isolated quotations from a document to establish a proposition." In essence, it is a practice of pulling isolated passages, fragments, or even sometimes single words out of the Bible, removing them from their original context and then using similarities in language or symbolism to assert that the cited passages support a certain position or prophesied a certain event.
As anyone who has any familiarity with the "history" produced by David Barton knows, the practice of yanking things out of context and then making bold declarations based on linguistic or stylistic similarities is fundamental to his work. And his new book, the Founders' Bible, provides a key insight into how this practice pervades all of Barton's work, be it interpreting the Bible or interpreting American history.
The book of Joshua kicks off with a sixteen page article on the history of the English language Bible in which Barton seeks to explain why, for most of Christian history, Bibles contained not only the 66 books found in current versions of the Bible, but dozens of other books as well, known as the Apocrypha. It was not until the 1500s that these books began to be excluded from the Bible when it was decided that they were not "part of the authoritative canon of Scripture."
In seeking to explain why, after thousands of years, these other books were suddenly excluded from the Bible, Barton provided a lengthy explanation about how it was God himself who said that there were only to be 66 books in the Bible way back when Moses and the Israelites were still wandering in the desert.
As Barton sees it, when God was giving Moses instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, He was very specific about the construction of the lampstand that was to serve as the light source within:
Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.
“Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.
Barton then explains that, throughout the Bible, a lamp or lampstand is frequently used as a symbol for the Word of God, which he claims, based upon the instructions from Exodus, demonstrate that God intended the Bible to contain exactly 66 books:
The lampstand was to have 7 branches, with 3 branches on each side of a center branch. Each branch was comprised of 3 cups in the shape of an almond blossom, and each cup had a bulb and a flower, thus 9 pieces (3+3+3) for one branch. The center branch had 4 cups, each with a bulb and a flower, or 12 pieces (4+4+4). So there are 6 outer branches of 9 pieces each and once center branch of 12, which means that the combined number of individual pieces (9+9+9+9+9+9+12) is 66.
The golden lampstand, being a type or symbol of the Word of God, has 66 individual pieces of hammered gold that are fashioned together into a single complete unit. And the Bible has 66 books, by dozens of authors, written over the span of some 1,500+ year, preserved and recorded for us upon who the ends of the age have come, fashioned together to create one amazing, continuous story that testifies of God and shines his light of His purpose and plan for salvation.
Is that coincidental, or is it God's providence?
There's more. Adding up the individual pieces of hammered gold of the first four branches of the lampstand (9+9+9+12) gives a total of 39 - the number of books in the Old Testament. Combing the individual pieces of the remaining three branches (9+9+9) yields a total of 27 - the precise number of books in the New Testament.
Not everyone is going to agree as to whether this proves anything, but it's hard not to agree that it is utterly amazing! The Bible has 39 Old Testament books + 27 New Testament book = 66 books of hammered pure gold that are considered one compete work - not just 39 or 27 or 80, but 66 Divinely inspired, purposed, and planned before the first one was ever penned.
And that is just one of the marvelous gems awaiting discovery in this supernatural Book!