John Alexander Tvedtnes was a teacher and scholar, he was born on January 26, 1941, in Mandan, North Dakota. At an early age, he developed an intense interest in the Old Testament. In 1949, his family moved to Salt Lake City, where he was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by friends at school. He was taught by stake missionaries and baptized on December 29, 1949.
Tvedtnes graduated from West High School in 1959. He was called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ in the French East Mission, where he served from 1961 to 1964. While in France, Elder Tvedtnes taught Regine Chabanis, who later came to the United States. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in August 1964 and together they had six children. They later divorced. In November 1986, he married Carol Steffensen in the Salt Lake Temple.
After earning a BA in anthropology at the University of Utah in 1969, Tvedtnes received a graduate certificate in Middle East area studies and an MA in Linguistics, with a minor in Arabic. In 1971, he received a second MA in Middle East Studies in Hebrew, with a minor in anthropology. He took courses at Berkeley and did extensive graduate work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, studying Egyptian and Semitic languages.
John taught Hebrew and linguistics at the University of Utah, and anthropology at the Brigham Young University Salt Lake Center. During more than eight years in Israel, he was with the BYU Jerusalem program where he taught Hebrew, anthropology, ancient Near Eastern history and archaeology, and historical geography of Israel and the Near East. He has also taught CES courses for Gospel Doctrine teachers.
Tvedtnes also served as Senior Resident Scholar and Senior Research Associate at the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Near Eastern Texts at BYU, as well as the Associate Director of Research at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS). His many works have been published by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, among others.
He served in the Church of Jesus Christ and especially loved teaching gospel doctrine classes. He served as a counselor in the young men's presidency, an elders' quorum president, and a high priest group leader. For six years, he was first counselor in the Jerusalem Branch presidency.
He passed away on June 3, 2018, in Bella Vista, Arkansas.