Stephen D. Ricks was born in Berkeley, California, when it was still a peaceful university community. He completed his BA in Ancient Greek and MA in the Classics at Brigham Young University, then received his PhD in ancient Near Eastern religions from the University of California, Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. While completing his doctoral work he spent two years studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is now professor of Hebrew and Cognate Learning at Brigham Young University where he has been a member of the faculty for nearly thirty years.
His academic work includes research and publication on the Book of Mormon, the Old Testament, Hebrew, and the temple, including studies on the ritual use of creation texts in the ancient world, temple-building motifs, enthronement ceremonies in history, and the garment of Adam in the ancient world.
From 1988 to 1991, he was the president of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS, now the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship). From 1991 to 1997, he served as the chairman of the FARMS board of directors. He was the founding editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, serving as editor from 1992 to 1997. From 1992 to 1996, he also served as the associate dean of general education and honors at BYU.
Professor Ricks has used his reading knowledge of more than twenty languages in his research and is an expert in Biblical Hebrew. For many years he has worked toward promoting positive relations between the LDS Church and Jewish groups. He and his wife Shirley are the parents of six children and the grandparents of nine.