Verbum Tip 4ac: Bible Browser: Theophanies of the Bible

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Dec 14 2020 10:41 PM

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Facet: Theophanies

Theophanies are also a subset of Biblical Events by definition. There is some similarity to Reported Speech where the speaker is God, and less similarity to Speaking to God.




  • Parks, Jimmy. 2018. Theophanies in the Bible Documentation. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife.


From the documentation:

Definition: A theophany is a physical, visual, or audible manifestation of God in his full glory and power. The event takes place in the context of the present earth and history, and not in a heavenly visitation. Also, conversations with the Lord are not all Theophanic. Only those audible manifestations which display the character and power of God are considered theophanic. For a comprehensive list of all verbal communication from God look to the Reported Speech data.

Several labels have been used to annotate specific aspects of each event.

•  Time: The time of the theophanic event according to the narrative time. The labels are ‘Past’, ‘Present’, and ‘Future.’ Those instance which are labeled as ‘Past’ are instance where theophanic events are remembered. Those labled ‘Future’ are events which are prophecied to happen in the future.

•  Beholder: The audience of the theophanic event.

•  Agent: The person of the Trinity who makes the theophanic appearance.

•  Manifestation: How God manifests himself in the physical realm.

•  Appearance: The physical form is used by God in the manifestation. If there is no form specified then the label is set to ‘Unknown.’[1]


Bible Browser

To test the Bible Browser a simple beholder:Abraham shows us five pericopes include theophanies – three narrating the events, two that reference the events.


There is no interactive for this dataset.

Context Menu and Information Panel

The Information Panel shows the anticipated attributes.

One aspect that is not captured in the coding is location. From a commentary on the relevance of location:

The locations associated with the theophany were usually identified with a landmark denoting them as a sacred site because of God’s manifestation there. For example, altars built for worship at the places where God appeared served as landmarks (Gen. 12:8; 22:9). Other times stone pillars and stelae, or engraved standing stones, were erected to commemorate a place of divine revelation (e.g., Jacob’s stone pillar at Bethel, Gen. 35:14; the cairn of twelve stones at Gilgal, Josh 4:1–9; the plastered stela of the Ebal ceremony, Josh. 8:32). In some cases natural geographical features functioned as the landmark signifying the sacred site, as in the case of the oak trees at Shechem and Mamre (near Hebron, Gen. 12:6; 18:1).

The purpose of these landmarks designating a particular geographical location as sacred or holy was threefold. (1) The establishment of a permanent marker at the place of divine visitation served as both a worship response to God and a tangible witness confirming the theophany for the recipient. (2) Marking the site provided a geographical point of reference permitting a later return or pilgrimage to the place of divine revelation. (3) The landmark often became a teaching memorial by which the Israelites instructed successive generations in the knowledge of Yahweh’s covenant (e.g., Ex. 3:12; Josh. 4:20–24).[2]

One can use the label function of Verbum to add such missing data. In a limited sense, one can supplement the labels to carry the information necessary for your interpretative methods. One might, for example, separate out the two elements form analysis finds in Theophany Reports:

Theophany Report (Bericht einer Gotteserscheinung, Theophaniebericht). Exod 3:2–3; 3:1–6; 33:19–34:3. A type of () report, occasionally in poetry, which recounts the manifestation of God, as distinct from () epiphany, which refers more generally to the appearance of any kind of divine being (e.g., angels, cherubim) or divinely influenced phenomenon. Two elements are characteristic: (1) description of Yahweh’s approach, () accompanying natural upheavals (wind, fire, storm, etc.), along with reactions of fear and awe (e.g., Judg 5:4–5; Deut 33:2; Amos 1:2; Mic 1:3–4; Ps 68:8–9 [NRSV 7–8]). Cf. 1 Kgs 19:9–14. Either member may be expanded with additional motifs (e.g., Isa 19:1; 26:21; 30:27–33; Nah 1:2–6; Hab 3:3–12). Possibly set originally in celebrations of military victory, and hence aimed at praising the God who gives victory, these reports are now found in various literary contexts, such as () hymns (Ps 97:2–5) and () prophecy of punishment (Isa 19:1–4; 26:21). Cf. FOTL XI, 436 (Theophany).[3]

The Context Menu has no surprises.


A Bible search initiated from the Context Menu creates a search argument of: {Label Theophany WHERE Agent ~ <Person God> AND Appearance ~ "Unknown" AND Beholder ~ <Person Abraham> AND Manifestation ~ "Physical Appearance" AND Time ~ "Present"}

Genesis 15:1 from the Bible Browser doesn’t appear in the search results – it’s search argument is {Label Theophany WHERE Agent ~ <Person God> AND Appearance ~ "Unknown" AND Beholder ~ <Person Abraham> AND Manifestation ~ "Dream" AND Time ~ "Present"} i.e. the attribute Manifestation differs. Cutting the search argument to {Label Theophany WHERE Agent ~ <Person God> AND Beholder ~ <Person Abraham> } replicates the Bible Browser results above.


[1] Jimmy Parks, Theophanies in the Bible Documentation (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2018).

[2] Andrew E. Hill, 1 & 2 Chronicles, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 413.

cross reference to another section of the commentary

cross reference to another section of the commentary

cross reference to another section of the commentary

NRSV New Revised Standard Version

cross reference to another section of the commentary

cross reference to another section of the commentary

FOTL Forms of the Old Testament Literature

[3] George W. Coats, Exodus 1–18, vol. 2A, The Forms of the Old Testament Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 173.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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