Volume 76, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



As part of NTT JTSR’s series on Key Texts, the present article discusses Erik H. Erikson’s interdisciplinary, psychohistorical study of the young Martin Luther, its reception, and its relevance for today. Erikson showed how Luther’s own identity crisis – emerging from the troubled relationship with his father – converged with a crisis in late medieval society and theology, and how being a talented helped Luther to solve both crises at the same time, presenting a “religiosity for the adult man” in accordance with the Renaissance need for autonomy. It is argued that during his psychosocial study of Luther and the latter’s cultural context, Erikson developed a general, existential theory of religion that is also relevant for an understanding of the search for identity and religion in modern times.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Arjona, Rubén. “Erik H. Erikson’s Young Man Luther: A Classic Revisited, Again,”Pastoral Psychology68 (2019): 591-603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-019-00884-3.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bainton, Ronald. “Luther: A Psychiatric Portrait,”The Yale Review (1959): 405-410.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bornkamm, Heinrich. “Luther und sein Vater. Bemerkungen zu Erik H.Erikson, Young Man Luther,” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche66 (1969): 38-61.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Capps, Donald. “Erikson’s Life-Cycle Theory: Religious Dimensions,”Religious Studies Review10, no. 2 (April1984): 120-127.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Capps, Donald. Men, Religion, and Melancholia. James, Otto, Jung, and Erikson. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997.
  6. Capps, Donald. “Erikson’s Life-Cycle Theory.” In The Decades of Life. A Guide to Human Development. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Capps, Donald. “Erik H.Erikson’sYoung Man Luther: A Classic Revisited,”Pastoral Psychology64, no. 3 (2015): 327-343. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-013-0564-2.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Coles, Robert. Erik H.Erikson, The Growth of His Work. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970.
  9. Danbolt, Lars Johan, et al. “Existential Care in a Modern Society: Pastoral Care Consultations in Local Communities in Norway,”International Journal for Practical Theology25, no. 1 (2021): 20-39. https://click.newsletter.degruyter.com/?qs=007384df97656054a756d7e0e12affe36eb0bbb677daebdce314cd11c6bf244076964bac60e04693b0c3fe8e01e084c20520313be0ae9961.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Erikson, Erik H.Childhood and Society. New York: Norton, 1950/19632 [London: Triad/Paladin Books, 1984].
  11. Erikson, Erik H.Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History. New York: Norton, 1958.
  12. Erikson, Erik H.Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: Norton, 1968.
  13. Erikson, Erik H.Life History and the Historical Moment. New York: Norton, 1975.
  14. Faber, H.“Een psychoanalyticus over Luther (I),”Nederlands Theologisch TijdschriftXX (1965): 17-37.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Fowler, James W.Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981.
  16. Friedman, Lawrence J.Identity’s Architect, A Biography of Erik H. Erikson. New York: Scribner, 1999.
  17. Jacobs, Janet Liebman, and DonaldCapps, eds. Religion, Society, and Psychoanalysis. Readings in Contemporary Theory. New York: Routledge, 1997.
  18. Johnson, Roger A., ed. Psychohistory and Religion. The Case of Young Man Luther.Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Kooiman, W.J.“Een psychoanalyticus over Luther (II),”Nederlands Theologisch TijdschriftXX (1965): 38-48.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Lindbeck, George A.“Erikson’s Young Man Luther: A Historical and Theological Reappraisal,”Soundings (1973): 210-227.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Marcia, James, et al. Ego Identity. A Handbook for Psychosocial Research. Springer Verlag, 1993.
  22. Nwoye, Augustine. “The Multicultural Relevance of Erikson’s Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History,”Psychotherapy and Politics International13, no. 1 (2015): 67-78. https://doi.org/10.1002/ppi.1345.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Pruyser, Paul W.“Erikson’s Young Man Luther: A New Chapter in the Psychology of Religion,”Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion2, no. 2 (1963): 238-42.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Smit, Job. Antwoord geven op het leven zelf: een onderzoek naar de basismethodiek van de geestelijke verzorging. Delft: Eburon, 2015.
  25. Vogelsang, Erich. Die Anfänge von Luthers Christologie. Berlin: De Gruyter1929.
  26. VGVZ, Professional Standard of the Dutch Association for Spiritual Care (2015). https://vgvz.nl/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Beroepsstandaard-2015.pdf.
  27. Zock, Hetty. A Psychology of Ultimate Concern. Erik H. Erikson’s Contribution to the Psychology of Religion. Leiden: Brill/Rodopi, 1990/20042.
  28. Zock, Hetty. “Human Development and Pastoral Care in a Postmodern Age: Donald Capps, Erik H. Erikson, and Beyond,”Journal of Religion & Health57, no. 2 (2018): 437-450. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-017-0483-0.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error