After serving in the Canada Winnipeg Mission and marrying Jennifer Sebring, Steve interned at BYU Studies in 1993. Because Steve had studied paleography, Editor in Chief John W. (Jack) Welch invited him to assist in comparing the journals of William McLellin with transcripts Jack was editing with Jan Shipps for joint publication by BYU Studies and the University of Illinois Press. That experience set the course of Steve’s career.
After graduating from BYU with a BA in history, he earned an MA in American history from Utah State University, where his thesis analyzed determinants of conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1830s. Chapters were published in the Journal of Mormon History and Religion and American Culture and awarded by the Mormon History Association with the T. Edgar Lyon Award for best article of the year and the Juanita Brooks Award for the best graduate student paper.
Steve earned a PhD in early American history from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He began teaching courses in religion and history at BYU Hawaii in 2000 and joined the religious education faculty at BYU in 2002. That year he also became a volume editor of The Joseph Smith Papers and the document editor for BYU Studies. He taught at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in 2011–2012.
His first book was Promised Land (Lehigh University Press, 2006), a study of Lenape or Delaware Indians’ responses to a fraudulent 1737 land deal in colonial Pennsylvania. He also authored Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants (Deseret Book, 2008), Joseph Smith’s First Vision (Deseret Book, 2012), and First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), along with dozens of articles.
In 2012 Steve was appointed as the managing historian and a general editor of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days.