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, as well as Shimer College president Susan Henking.
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 and the Rev. Peter Marty, who hosted the ELCA radio ministry Grace Matters from 2005 to 2009.
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.
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; the encyclopedic five-volume Fundamentalism Project, 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.
- October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World (2016) Paraclete Press. Brewster, Massachusetts. ISBN 978-1-61261-656-8
- Martin Luther (The Penguin Lives Series). New York: Viking (2004) ISBN 0-670-03272-7
- The One and the Many: America's Struggle for the Common Good (1997) Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts. ISBN 0-674-63827-1
- The Glory and the Power: The Fundamentalist Challenge to the Modern World. (1992) Beacon. Boston, Massachusetts.ISBN 0-807-01216-5
- Religion and Republic: The American Circumstance (1987) Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-1206-8
- The New Shape of American Religion (1958) New York: Harper and Brothers
- Modern American Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Pilgrims in Their Own Land: 500 Years of Religion in America (1984) New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-00-8268-9
- The Public Church: Mainline-Evangelical-Catholic (1981) New York: Crossroads. ISBN 0-8245-0019-9
- Protestantism (1972) Garden City, New York: Image Books. ISBN 0-385-07610-X
- Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America (1970) Harper Torchbook 1977 paperback: ISBN 0-06-131931-7
- A Short history of Christianity, The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio (1959)
- 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.
Articles and monographs
- Marty, Martin E. "Fundamentalism as a Social Phenomenon." Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 42 (November 1988): 15-29.
- Marty, Martin E. "Fundamentalism Reborn: Faith and Fanaticism." Saturday Review. May 1980, 37-42.
- Marty, Martin E. "Too Bad We're So Relevant: The Fundamentalism Project Projected". The Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 49 (March 1996): 22-38.
- The Fundamentalism Project, Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, Editors
- Volume 1: Fundamentalisms Observed, Marty/Appleby, (1991) ISBN 0-226-50878-1
- Volume 2: Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education, Marty/Appleby/Hardacre/Mendelsohn, (1993) ISBN 0-226-50881-1
- Volume 3: Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance, Marty/Appleby/Garvey/Kuran, (1993) ISBN 0-226-50884-6
- Volume 4: Accounting for Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Character of Movements, Marty/Appleby/Ammerman/Frykenberg/Heilman/Piscatori, (1994) ISBN 0-226-50886-2
- Volume 5: Fundamentalisms Comprehended, Marty/Appleby, (1995) ISBN 0-226-50888-9
- Hizmet Means Service: Perspectives on an Alternative Path within Islam, University of California Press (2015).
- The Place of Bonhoeffer: Problems and possibilities in his thought , Association Press, 1962.
- Martin Marty. "Ph.D. advisees". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- "2013 Commencement Speaker Martin E. Marty". Shimer College. Archived from the original on 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
- Marty, Martin E. (2008), The Christian World: A Global History. Random House, back sleeve.
- "About Grace Matters". Grace Matters. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "Laureates by Year - The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
- "National Book Awards – 1972". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Book Series: The Fundamentalism Project". 20 December 2015.
- Martin E. Marty homepage
- Fundamentalism Project
- Sightings, a publication of the University of Chicago Divinity School's Martin Marty Center
- Video interview on his book, The Mystery of the Child
- Download or listen to Martin Marty interview by The Progressive magazine, 27 September 2006
- "Prison Writings in a World Come of Age: The Special Vision of Dietrich Bonhoeffer", Martin E. Marty, Berfrois, 12 May 2011
- Appearances on C-SPAN