The term is from two Greek words meaning "God" and "appearance." A theophany is a manifestation of God, usually with both visual and audible elements. For example, God appears to Moses in a burning bush and commissions him to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt (Ex 3:1-12). Later at Sinai there are both visual (cloud, lightning) and audible (thunder, voice) indications of God's presence in connection with the making of the covenant (Ex 19). Subsequently in the OT there are many passages recounting theophanies, especially in connection with the calls of the prophets. In the NT the theophanies are usually associated with God's visual and audible revelation in Christ, for example, the Transfiguration (Mk 9:2-8 and parallels). When it refers to Christ, it is termed a Christophany.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.