Martin E. Marty

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Martin E. Marty
Marty speaking at Shimer College in 2013
Martin Emil Marty

(1928-02-05) February 5, 1928 (age 96)
  • Elsa Marty
    (m. 1952; died 1981)
  • Harriet Marty
    (m. 1982)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Lutheran)
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Uses of Infidelity[7] (1956)
Academic work
Sub-disciplineHistory of religion
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
Doctoral students
Notable worksRighteous Empire (1970)
Notable ideasPublic theology

Martin Emil Marty (born February 5, 1928) is an American Lutheran religious scholar who has written extensively on religion in the United States.

Early life and education[edit]

Marty was born on February 5, 1928, in West Point, Nebraska, and raised in Iowa and Nebraska. He was a member of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and was educated at Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. Marty continued with graduate work, receiving a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Chicago in 1956. He served as a Lutheran pastor from 1952 to 1967 in the suburbs of Chicago.[6]


From 1963 to 1998 Marty taught at the University of Chicago Divinity School, eventually holding an endowed chair, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professorship. His more than 130 doctoral advisees at the University of Chicago include M. Craig Barnes, Jonathan M. Butler, Vincent Harding, Jeffrey Kaplan, James R. Lewis, and John G. Stackhouse Jr.[8]

Marty served as president of the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Church History, and the American Catholic Historical Association. He was the founding president and later the George B. Caldwell Scholar-in-Residence at the Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith, and Ethics. He has served on two US presidential commissions and was director of both the Fundamentalism Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Public Religion Project at the University of Chicago sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts. He has served at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, since 1988 as Regent, Board Chair, Interim President in late 2000, and since 2002 as Senior Regent.

Marty retired on his seventieth birthday. He holds emeritus status at the University of Chicago; he served as Robert W. Woodruff Visiting Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University 2003–2004. His first wife, Elsa, died and he married again, to Harriet. He has seven children (including two foster children), among whom are John Marty, a Minnesota State Senator,[9] and Peter Marty, who hosted the ELCA radio ministry Grace Matters from 2005 to 2009; and is now publisher of The Christian Century magazine and senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa.[10]

The Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion is named for Marty and has been awarded annually since 1996.[11]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Marty has received numerous honors, including the National Humanities Medal, the Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the University of Chicago Alumni Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal of the Association of Theological Schools, and 80 honorary doctorates. In 1991, Marty was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (LHD) degree from Whittier College.[12]

Named in his honor, the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion is the University of Chicago Divinity School's institute for interdisciplinary research in all fields of the academic study of religion. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and of the American Philosophical Society[13] and is the Mohandas M. K. Gandhi Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences.

Marty was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State's highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 1998 in the field of Religion.[14]



Marty published an authored book and an edited book for every year he was a full-time professor. He maintained that authorial pace for the first decade of his retirement, slowing only in the second. His dozens of published books include Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America (1970), for which he won the National Book Award in category Philosophy and Religion;[15] the encyclopedic five-volume Fundamentalism Project,[16] co-edited with historian R. Scott Appleby, formerly his dissertation advisee; and the biography Martin Luther (2004). He has been a columnist and senior editor for The Christian Century magazine since 1956, edited the biweekly Context newsletter from 1969 until 2010, and writes a weekly column distributed electronically as "Sightings" by the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School. In addition, he has authored over 5,000 articles and many more incidental pieces, encyclopedia entries, forewords, and the like.



  • The New Shape of American Religion (1958) New York: Harper and Brothers
  • A Short History of Christianity, The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio (1959)
  • Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America (1970) Harper Torchbook 1977 paperback: ISBN 0-06-131931-7
  • Protestantism (1972) Garden City, New York: Image Books. ISBN 0-385-07610-X
  • The Public Church: Mainline-Evangelical-Catholic (1981) New York: Crossroads. ISBN 0-8245-0019-9
  • A Cry of Absence, Reflections for the Winter of the Heart, (1983) Harper & Row, ISBN 0-06-065434-1
  • Pilgrims in Their Own Land: 500 Years of Religion in America (1984) New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-00-8268-9
  • Modern American Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Religion and Republic: The American Circumstance (1987) Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-1206-8
  • The Glory and the Power: The Fundamentalist Challenge to the Modern World. (1992) Beacon. Boston, Massachusetts.ISBN 0-807-01216-5
  • The One and the Many: America's Struggle for the Common Good (1997) Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts. ISBN 0-674-63827-1
  • Martin Luther (The Penguin Lives Series). New York: Viking (2004) ISBN 0-670-03272-7
  • The Protestant Voice in American Pluralism. Aphens, Ga; London: University of Georgia Press. 2004. ISBN 0-8203-2580-5.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers From Prison: A Biography (2011) Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey. ISBN 978-0-69113-921-0
  • October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World (2016) Paraclete Press. Brewster, Massachusetts. ISBN 978-1-61261-656-8

Book chapters[edit]

  • Martin E. Marty. "Half a Life in Religious Studies: Confessions of an 'Historical Historian'." pp. 151–174 in The Craft of Religious Studies, edited by Jon R. Stone. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.
  • Martin E. Marty, "Locating Jay P. Dolan," in The American Catholic Experience: Essays in Honor of Jay P. Dolan (Catholic University of America Press, 2001), pp. 99–108 online

Articles and monographs[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Marty, Martin E. 1928– |".
  2. ^ Ross, Rev Craig (April 21, 2015). "4-19-15, Easter 3 (PR) Do You Have a Summer or Winter Spirituality?".
  3. ^ Writer, Paul Galloway, Tribune Staff (February 5, 1998). "TWO ESTEMMED CHICAGO CHURCHMEN, ANDREW GREELEY AND MARTIN MARTY, ARE TURNING 70".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Harriet Marty".
  5. ^ "Martin Marty".
  6. ^ a b "Martin Emil Marty | Nebraska Authors".
  7. ^ Marty, Martin E. (1956). The Uses of Infidelity: Changing Images of Freethought Opposition to American Churches (PhD thesis). Chicago: University of Chicago. OCLC 844530172.
  8. ^ Martin Marty. "Ph.D. advisees". Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  9. ^ Marty, Martin E. (2008), The Christian World: A Global History. Random House, back sleeve.
  10. ^ "About Grace Matters". Grace Matters. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  11. ^ "Martin E. Marty Public Understanding of Religion Award |". Archived from the original on July 12, 2013.
  12. ^ "Honorary Degrees | Whittier College". Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  13. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  14. ^ "Laureates by Year - The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "National Book Awards – 1972". National Book Foundation. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  16. ^ "Book Series: The Fundamentalism Project". December 20, 2015.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Ingersoll Lecturer on Human Immortality
Succeeded by
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the American
Society of Church History

Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the American Academy of Religion
Succeeded by
Preceded by National Book Award for Philosophy and Religion
Succeeded by
Preceded by Gordon J. Laing Award
Succeeded by
Succeeded by