Vern S. Poythress was born in 1946 in Madera, California, where he lived with his parents Ransom H. Poythress and Carola N. Poythress and his older brother Kenneth R. Poythress. The family lived on a farm until he was five years old. When he was nine years old he made a public commitment to Christ and was baptized in Chowchilla First Baptist Church, Chowchilla, California. The family later moved to Fresno, California, and he graduated from Bullard High School in Fresno.
He earned a B.S. in mathematics from California Institute of Technology (1966) and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University (1970). After teaching mathematics for a year at Fresno State College (now California State University at Fresno), he became a student at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he earned an M.Div. (1974) and a Th.M. in apologetics (1974). He received an M.Litt. in New Testament from University of Cambridge (1977) and a Th.D. in New Testament from the University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa (1981).
He has been teaching in New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia since 1976. In 1981 he was ordained as a teaching elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod, which has now merged with the Presbyterian Church in America.
More information about his teaching at Westminster can be found at the Westminster Seminary website.
Dr. Poythress studied linguistics and Bible translation at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Norman Oklahoma in 1971 and 1972, and taught linguistics at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in the summers of 1974, 1975, and 1977. He has published books on Christian philosophy of science, theological method, dispensationalism, biblical law, hermeneutics, Bible translation, and Revelation. A list of publications is found on this website.
Dr. Poythress married his wife Diane in 1983, and they have two children, Ransom and Justin. He has side interests in science fiction, string figures, volleyball, and computers.
Where to Start with Vern Poythress’ Writings
Here are some representative articles that can serve as an introduction to the writings of Vern S. Poythress. Articles of greater interest are put earlier in the list.
- 2009. “Multiperspectivalism and the Reformed Faith” (pdf) in Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John M. Frame, ed. John J. Hughes (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2009) 173-200.
- 1996. “Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works of the Spirit within Cessationist Theology,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39/1:71-101.
- 2003. “Why Scientists Must Believe in God: Divine Attributes of Scientific Law,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/1: 111-23.
- 1986. “Divine Meaning of Scripture,” Westminster Theological Journal 48:241-279.
- 1988. “Christ the Only Savior of Interpretation,” Westminster Theological Journal 50/2:305-321.
- 2007. “The Presence of God Qualifying Our Notions of Grammatical-Historical Interpretation,” JETS 50/1: 87-103.
- 1997. “Counterfeiting in the Book of Revelation as a Perspective on Non-Christian Culture,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40/3:411-418.
- 2015. “Correlations with Providence in Genesis 1,” Westminster Theological Journal 77/1 (2015): 71-99.
- 2018. “10 Things You Should Know about Theophanies,” Crossway article, Feb. 11, 2018.
Readers are encouraged to consult his books for a more thorough explanation. Most of his books are available on the ebooks page of this website. See especially
- Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology (reprint, P & R, 2001).
- The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, in All of Life, with All of Our Heart (Crossway, 2016).
- Reading the Word of God in the Presence of God: A Handbook for Biblical Interpretation (Crossway, 2016).
- Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P & R, 2018).
- God-Centered Biblical Interpretation (P & R, 1999).