Photo of Steven J Patterson

Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School

M.A., Claremont Graduate School

M.T.S., Harvard University

B.A., Yankton College

Stephen J. Patterson

Geo. H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon

Stephen J. Patterson grew up the child of a pastor and schoolteacher in rural South Dakota. He received a B.A. from Yankton College in South Dakota, and holds graduate degrees from Harvard University and the Claremont Graduate School, where he received a Ph.D. in New Testament in 1988. In 1986 he was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Patterson specializes in the study of the historical Jesus, Christian origins, and the Gospel of Thomas, an early Christian gospel not found in the New Testament. Most recently he has written about the theological significance of the newest phase in the quest for the historical Jesus.

Published books

  • The Forgotten Creed: Christianity’s Original Struggle against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism (Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • The Lost Way: How Two Forgotten Gospels Are Rewriting the Story of Christian Origins (Harper, 2014)
  • Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus (Augsburg Fortress, 2004)
  • The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Search for God (Trinity, 1998)
  • The Fifth Gospel: The Gospel of Thomas Comes of Age (Trinity, 1998), with J. M. Robinson and H.-M. Bethge
  • The Search for Jesus (Biblical Archaeology Society, 1994), with M. Borg and J. D. Crossan
  • The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus (Polebridge, 1993)
  • The Q-Thomas Reader (Polebridge, 1990), with M. Meyer, M. Steinhauser, and J. Kloppenborg

Academic Credentials

  • B.A., Yankton College
  • M.T.S., Harvard University
  • M.A., Claremont Graduate School
  • Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School


  • Geo. H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University, 2010–
  • Professor of New Testament, Eden Theological Seminary, 1988–2010

Professional Service

  • Chair of the Steering Committee, The Jesus Seminar on Christian Origins
  • Fellow, The Jesus Seminar
  • Member, The Society of Biblical Literature
  • Contributing Editor, The Bible Review

Awards and Honors

  • Fulbright Fellow, West Germany, 1986-1987