Stephen J. Patterson is Geo. H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University. He 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.