A theophany is a majestic event of God appearing. Vern Poythress writes that it is “a manifestation of divine presence accompanied by an extraordinary display mediating that presence.” It is easy to minimize the magnificence of an event by disregarding the grandeur of God. In Theophany Vern Poythress examines the biblical theology of theophanies as he undertakes a deep analysis of God’s appearing throughout all of Scripture.
The 48 chapters are divided into four easy section: Biblical Themes of God Appearing (chapter 1-11), The Mystery of God Appearing (chapters 12-24), A History of God Appearing in the Old Testament (chapters 25-44), A History of God Appearing in the New Testament (chapters 45-48). Emphasizing promise, covenant, and kingdom, Poythress follows a general layout of examining passages (particularly Old Testament passages), offering an explanation, and demonstrating their fulfillment in Christ. Such a format is of extreme benefit to Christians because so many of us fail to make the connections between the Old Testament passages, their fulfillment in Christ, and the application to the Christian life. As a result, the author does very well at bridging that discontinuity.
Readers will be taken on a systematic journey through Scripture that reveals much about who God is and how he has made himself known to people. The implications of that are profound because it demonstrates God’s relationship with His people. Poythress’ writing is reminiscent of John Frame (whom he cites frequently). As a result, it can be expected that the writing will be clear while maintaining substance to it. The author has much to say and readers will find great benefit from the comprehensiveness of the book.
Admittedly, there are points in which one can question whether or not the author has overreached in his application and interpretation of what a theophany is. He can sometimes include passages that while clearly demonstrating God’s character, they should not necessarily be classified as a theophany. At times he will draw attention to this and sometimes he simply includes it without comment about the confusion. However, overall the book is theologically solid; I will confess that there are certain areas that I would like to research more in order to remove any uncertainty about Poythress’ interpretations and application. With that said though, readers will not find any glaring theological oversights or errors.
Vern Poythress has done much research and is clearly able to articulate his points and provide evidence supporting his conclusions. The fact that God’s manifestation of himself to believers is so integral to the Christian life makes this an important read because of the author’s ability to pinpoint the importance of such points. It may be a long read for many though, and so expect to spend time working your way through Theophany by Vern Poythress.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of the book.