Steven Harper is currently a historian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he shares what he knows in many ways including via the new online essay titled The First Vision: A Narrative from Joseph Smith’s Accounts.
Steve’s interest in Church history began at age 14. That’s when he read a letter—fake, it turned out—in which (the forger as) Joseph Smith described how to find buried treasure guided by a spirit. Steve asked his dad about the strange document. His father’s answer was profound. Then within a few months, the forger murdered two people and his scheme unraveled. Steve learned invaluable lessons from his father and the tragic events—lessons he now shares with others.
Steve added to these lessons by studying history as an undergraduate at BYU, assisting the editors of newly-discovered early Mormon documents—real, it turned out—writing an M.A. thesis on early LDS history, and earning a PhD in early American history.
Then he began teaching others, first as a professor at BYU Hawaii, then as a professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU. He served as an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, wrote dozens of articles and a few books including Joseph Smith’s First Vision and Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, and he taught at BYU Education Week and Women’s Conference. He also taught at the BYU Jerusalem Center, guiding students through the sites and stories of the Bible.
A high point in his life is when Steve married Jennifer Sebring and they had five children.
Steve is a leading scholar of LDS history and scripture, with a gift for helping people discover what they know and how they know it.