From the onset of Judaism, God is unknown. In Exodus, we learn through Moses that God is being itself, eternally present, as Augustine sees it. We learn, through Philo early on in the Christian tradition of the Jewish unknowability of God, His transcendence, maintained but shown in participation, He is temporally known; the God of Abraham (Teaching), Isaac (Perfection), Jacob (Practice). And we have Gregory of Nyssa particularly certain on the point. No one can know God’s nature, His essence. Nature, the material, is all man can know, except for the suspicion and growing conviction of His existence and His power.
At some point during the Enlightenment, and particularly in the last fifty years with those like Norm Geisler, R.C. Sproul, and other eager folk back in Chicago in 1978, God was reduced to a book, literally (see Geisler in “Systematic Theology, Volume I”, deny the whole of Christian thinking from the apostles onward in this move).
The thrust, the motive of the more than two thousand year old tradition in Jewish and Christian thinking on the complete transcendence and unknowability of God was to preserve our ideas of His majesty, keeping us humble and God, ultimate. “Other, other, other is the Lord God Almighty!” Essentially, it was respectful. For the Christian, it also put the greatest possible emphasis on Jesus of Nazareth, the complete image of God on Earth, the proposed sole means a man could know God.
It seems to me that over the years, Christianity has become a bit cheap in the bid for certainty; a Bible that’s inerrant and not interpreted, an infinite God it somehow captures the nature of, whose pages are quoted to the horror of the oppressed, the poor, the outcast, yet preferred to the image of God through the actions of Christ who loved them all.
May one of these traditions die right on the vine!