The Old Testament was like a world where God would unexpectedly appear to humans and interact with His creations. The main reasons for this particular action was to inform that person of what He was about to do. God would also use his appearances as a way to to strengthen and encourage his people. In this world, where God sneaks down to conform into the physical form of a human, was for the purpose so that His creations would be more easily able to relate to Him and receive His message more adequately. These appearances are known as Christophanies, and are shown throughout the Old Testament.
James Borland writes a book named Christ in the Old Testament. Borland paints a detailed picture of what this world of Christophanies consisted of during that time. Appearances of God date all the way back to the early chapters of Genesis. Even though God appeared several times in throughout the book, not all those appearances are considered theophanies. It is difficult to find a comprehensive definition of what theophany is. For an example, God’s brief appearances to Abraham, Joshua, and Gideon are different than the appearances made in Shekinah, or as Jesus the Messiah.
Borland quotes The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, which states “the idea of theophany is something temporary and not permanent” (15). There are Several different connotations of the term theophany, that will help better formulate the term Christophany. The different connotations can be distinguished in dreams, visions, shekinah glory, incarnation of Christ, after his resurrection, his second coming. They all differ from Christophany. Borland presents the idea of Christophany as concrete reality of the time before God began to reveal an ample amount of the Scriptures.
The book is divided into different chapters that are in logical order. In the beginning of the book Borland first defines a Christophany, distinguishing and making it clear from other types of God’s manifestation. The primary difference between the Old Testament Christophany and the incarnation of Christ according to Borland,“Is not only in the transitory nature of the one and the permanency of the other. More importantly the incarnation of Christ involved a permanent union between God and complete manhood”(20).
Christophany and incarnation are two different ideas. Christophanies were actual occurrences. They were not imaginary, or a hallucinatory experience. Borland said that a Christophanies must stand or fall with the entire word of God and cannot be separated out as later additions to legitimatize certain holy places (21). These were very special events. Some Characteristics of a Christophany that were included in the book: Christophanies could only be initiated by God, and He revealed Himself as He willed. Christophanies were revelatory or revealing.
Each had an immediate purpose, such as the assurance of promises, warnings, or instruction. Christophanies were for individuals rather for multitudes, That is why the incarnation of Christ would not be considered a theophany. Christophanies were intermittent occurrences. There was no predictability as to when a Christophany might occur. They were random. Christophanies only lasted several minutes and they were always audible and visible. The recipient were not “hearing things” as the world today might say if a Christophany were to happen.
Because of the incarnation of Christ, Christophanies are no longer necessary today (33-34). In the other chapters Borland offers several proof that the Old Testament Christophanies were actually appearances of God, Such as Scriptural, and theological. the person that appeared in the Old Testament was all deity and was proved to be the Father Son and the Holy spirit. The author often addresses the objections of various dissenting theologians, and various Scriptures that seem to preclude Christophanies.
In the case such as in the book of Joshua where the text explains that Joshua saw a “man”, Borland is convinced that this is still an appearance of God, or Jehovah. In the last few chapters Borland explains the form of Christophanies. He explains that they are visible and were not through a vision. They were audible, and completely put in a human form in every and any recognizable way. Borland examines in depth several individual passages in where God appears or speaks.
Borland also focused on the theology of the Christophany in the last few chapters, relating these appearances to four major forms of theology: bibliology, theology proper, Christology, and biblical theology. The main point that is made is that God had a purpose for revealing Himself in each Christophany. The world that existed during the time of the Old Testament is evident that it is not the same world that exists in the New Testament. Throughout the years since the Old Testament, God has appeared to humanity in different ways.
Ways that are not considered Christophanies. It is amazing how God is willing to step out his throne and step down to communicate to a sinful person. The whole idea of God making an effort to communicate with his creation Whether it was in the old testament or in modern times, demonstrates his humility and love. As Christians we should respect and honor him for that. In writing this book James Borland did a wonderful job writing this book. It was very informational, and this book should be passed down for generations to come.