Stephen Patterson

Department Chair, George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies

Stephen J. Patterson came to Willamette University in 2010 as the George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies.  He brings to the classroom 30 years of undergraduate and graduate education in various places of higher learning, including visiting stints in Africa and India.

Dr. Patterson is an historian of religion specializing in the beginnings of Christianity.  His research and writing have focused on the Gospel of Thomas, Q, and various aspects of the historical study of Jesus.  He is the author of nine books, including most recently The Lost Way (Harper 2014), and The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Origins (Brill, 20103).  His many essays and reviews have appeared in The Harvard Theological Review, The Journal of Biblical Literature, The Journal of Religion, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Theology Today, among other publications both professional and popular.  You will see Dr. Patterson in various documentaries dealing with biblical subject matter airing on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and National Geographic, and featured in the popular series, Living the Questions.  He holds memberships in the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas.  He is also a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of 150 scholars of early Christianity dedicated to promoting religious literacy among the general public. 

To learn more about Dr. Patterson, visit his website,