Crossway, 2018. 464pp.
In Theophany: A Biblical Theology of God’s Appearing, Vern S. Poythress goes into great detail about the appearance of God recorded in the Bible. The book is divided into four main sections. The first covers the biblical theme of God appearing. The second covers the mystery of His appearing. The final two go into the history of his appearances in the Old and New Testaments. The biblical themes of God’s appearances cover the ways that He appears, such as through fire, in the form of a man, and other ways. The section covering the mystery of His appearances delves into ways that God’s attributes are shown in things such as Creation and clothing. The final two sections go through the Bible and explain the various appearance of God.
Theophany is both informative and educational. However, it is written more as a reference work than a leisurely read. While it can be used as a quick reference guide to theophanies, it really shines when the reader takes their time with each chapter to fully understand all of the references. A downside to this book is that Dr. Poythress does have a habit of making conclusions in the book without showing the reader how he got there. Fortunately, it should be obvious to any reader of the book that these conclusions are not drawn out of thin air. Dr. Poythress is more than capable of explaining these conclusions. If he had taken the time to do so, the page count would have numbered in the thousands, rather than 464 pages. Theophany is an excellent addition to a theologian’s library.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
In a world where many are left wondering where God is in their lives, it is helpful to be able to show them examples. This book can help pastors do that.
The most obvious benefit, however, will come in sermon preparation. Dr. Poythress does an excellent job of cross-referencing where possible and also includes in the book a scripture index that pastors can use to find more information on a verse they may be covering on a Sunday. The final two sections of the book are dedicated to appearances of God in the Bible and are easy to reference.
Another way pastors can use this book is in counseling sessions. While it is not a book you would want to assign to a lay person, fully understanding the mystery and majesty of God’s appearances throughout time may be of use when counseling those who are perhaps struggling with their faith. (A pastor would be wise to first fully absorb the material as it is written in an academic style that may be off-putting or difficult to understand by some congregants.)
Finally, this book is of benefit to pastors in that it will help them continue to learn about God and to grow in their personal faith by challenging them to investigate God and His Word more deeply.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
This LifeWay Pastors review was written by Laz Martinez.