Martin E. Marty

For the Benedictine bishop and missionary, see Martin Marty (bishop).
Marty speaking at Shimer College, May 2013

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


He received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago in 1956, and served as a Lutheran pastor from 1952 to 1967 in the suburbs of Chicago. From 1963 to 1998 he taught at the University of Chicago Divinity School, eventually holding an endowed chair (the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professorship). Marty's doctoral advisees at the University of Chicago included religious scholars James R. Lewis, Jeffrey Kaplan, Jonathan M. Butler, and Vincent Harding,[1] as well as Shimer College president Susan Henking.[2]

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 U. S. 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 now as Senior Regent.

Marty retired after his seventieth birthday. He holds emeritus status at the University of Chicago; he additionally served as Robert W. Woodruff Visiting Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University 2003–2004. His first wife, Elsa, died. He is now married to Harriet. He has seven children (including two who joined the family as foster children), among whom are Minnesota State Senator John Marty[3] and the Rev. Peter Marty, who hosted the ELCA radio ministry Grace Matters from 2005-2009.[4]

Awards and accolades

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, the Order of Lincoln Medallion (Illinois’ top honor), and 80 honorary doctorates. 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 and is the Mohandas M. K. Gandhi Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences.

Martin E. 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 area of Religion.[5]



Marty published an authored book and an edited book for every year he was a full-time professor. He has maintained that authorial pace in his retirement. 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;[6] the encyclopedic five-volume Fundamentalism Project,[7] 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.


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As author


A Short history of Christianity, The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio (1959)

Book chapters
Articles and monographs

As editor

See also


  1. Martin Marty. "Ph.D. advisees". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  2. "2013 Commencement Speaker Martin E. Marty". Shimer College. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  3. Marty, Martin E. (2008), The Christian World: A Global History. Random House, back sleeve.
  4. "About Grace Matters". Grace Matters. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  5. "Laureates by Year - The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  6. "National Book Awards – 1972". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  7. "Book Series: The Fundamentalism Project". 20 December 2015.
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