Erik H. Erikson, Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (1958). A Psychosocial Interpretation of Luther and its Relevance for Understanding Religious Identity Formation Today

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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 homo religiosus 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 to an understanding of the search for identity and religion in modern times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-75
Number of pages15
JournalNTT: Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2022


  • Erik H. Erikson, Martin Luther, psychohistory, psychosocial development, identity crisis, existential identity, ultimate concerns, homo religiosus

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