Definition of theophany in US English:



  • A visible manifestation to humankind of God or a god.

    • ‘As a result, the Book of Exodus is brimming with theophanies, legal formulas, songs, and poems.’
    • ‘His biography, written by St Gregory of Nyssa, describes the crowning moment of divine theophany.’
    • ‘As for the theophany in the eleventh chapter of the Gita, Arjuna has a vision of Krishna's awesome cosmic form and feels overwhelmed.’
    • ‘After hitch-hiking ever northwards to Derby, then hiring a plane to Coronation Gulf, he begins a Crusoe-like existence on a deserted island where he experiences two theophanies.’
    • ‘And it's interesting that this word is used here to herald God's presence and to announce some kind of a theophany or some kind of a vision of God.’
    • ‘These he divides into events (e.g., miracles, theophanies, life of Jesus), all possessing numinous phenomena and themes.’
    • ‘Thus, the call of Moses uses theophany and promise to create a relationship with Yahweh, one that is expressed in Israel's obedience and carried forward to future audiences by means of Passover re-enactment.’
    • ‘The clouds thus serve to veil the divine glory, which no human can see, as in other theophanies.’
    • ‘We shall be fulfilled with his visible theophany in holy contemplations, and it shall shine round about us with radiant beams of glory just as of old it once shone round the disciples at the divine Transfiguration.’
    • ‘There is an epiphany and a theophany, and the faithful are called to ‘join in,’ invited to participate.’
    • ‘It is stretching it to conclude, based on this one incident, particularly since this is a theophany, that God literally needed the food.’
    • ‘People of all faiths and in every age have responded to the restless desire for theophany by walking to where holy men and women lived and were martyred in the service of a god.’
    • ‘This may correspond to a realistic, representational way of thinking, but not the Orthodox symbolic realism that sees in the incarnation of the Word not a man walking about on the earth but the theophany in a human form.’
    • ‘Each is a divine theophany, a way in which the divine nature is manifested.’
    • ‘In a famous sequence of wind, earthquake and fire, the noise of theophany is overwhelming; but it is only with the stunning quiet of the aftermath that the Lord speaks to Elijah in the ‘sound of sheer silence.’’
    • ‘It is what is called a theophany, a manifestation of God, and it became one of the main texts used in Jewish and Christian discussion of God.’
    • ‘He declared that a theophany or revelation transformed a profane space into a sacred one, and thus it became locally fixed.’


Old English, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek theophaneia, from theos ‘god’ + phainein ‘to show’.