Scholar’s Bookshelf: Dr. Vern Poythress, Westminster Theological Seminary

Vern Sheridan PoythressVern Sheridan Poythress is the Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, in Pennsylvania. Dr. Poythress holds a BS in Mathematics from California Institute of Technology, a PhD in mathematics from Harvard University, an MDiv and a ThM in apologetics from Westminster Theological Seminary, an M.Litt in New Testament from University of Cambridge, and a ThD in New Testament from the University of Stellenbosch.

In case you weren’t counting, that’s five graduate degrees. For more information on Dr. Poythress, see the website he shares with Dr. John Frame at frame-poythress.org.

As you can imagine, Dr. Poythress has published a large breadth of literature. To highlight a few, see Reading the Word of God in the Presence of GodKnowing and Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the TrinityRedeeming Mathematics: A God-Centered Approach, and Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible.

TSS: Who was your most influential seminary professor?

Dr. Poythress: John Frame, because of faithfulness to the Bible, clarity of thought, and use of perspectives.

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Frame’s triperspectivalism has been personally important to me and many others, and is worked out beautifully in his massive four-volume Lordship series, and more concisely in Theology in Three Dimensions. Personally, I found his use of triperspectivalism particularly useful in his treatment on ethics, The Doctrine of the Christian Life.]

TSS: If you could do seminary over again, what’s one thing you would do differently?

Dr. Poythress: Pray more.

[Another Editor’s Note: I’m struck by how concise our scholars’ responses to this question typically are. Dr. Poythress has clearly given decades of thought to the power of prayer and the life of the seminarian, and it all boils down simply and beautifully to this one thing: pray more, seminarian!]

TSS: What are three of the best books you’ve read?

Dr. Poythress:

Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith: it reoriented my thinking about apologetics.


John Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: because of his use of perspectives.


John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion: this was my first introduction to Reformed theology.

TSS: What’s one book you are currently reading?

Dr. Poythress: Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics.

TSS: What is your #1 tip for navigating seminary well?

Dr. Poythress: Be active spiritually, especially in church.

TSS: Are you working on any forthcoming projects you can tell us about?

Dr. Poythress: Interpreting Eden: A Guide to Faithfully Reading and Understanding Genesis 1-3.

[Editor’s Note: Interpreting Eden is available for pre-order now, and will be available on March 31, 2019.]

Jonathan Watson