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Donald Capps dies at 76

Donald Capps

Donald Capps

Donald Capps, retired Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton and a former member of the Psychology and Biblical Studies steering committee died August 26, 2015 from injuries suffered in a traffic accident.

Capps was a significant figure in the development of Pastoral Theology, and wrote many books in the field, including two of particular note for psychological biblical criticism: Jesus, A Psychological Biography (Chalice, 2000) and Jesus the Village Psychiatrist (Westminster John Knox, 2008). The former book was reviewed in a Psychology and Biblical Studies session in 2000.

He served as President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion from 1990-1992, and was book review editor for the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1980-1983 and 1983-1988. He began at Princeton in 1981, retired as professor emeritus in 2009, but continued to teach as an adjunct.

Read more at Planet Princeton.


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Jesus the Village Psychiatrist

Capps, Donald (2008). Jesus the Village Psychiatrist. Louisville: Westminster John Knox.

From the jacket: Capps argues that one of Jesus’ purposes was to heal people from mental illnesses, which people in the ancient world would have called possessions and seen manifested in physical ailments such as blindness, paralysis, or other symptoms. As Capps argues, Jesus’ mission involved attending to and overcoming the various psychological and cultural causes behind these illnesses.

This book was featured in a session of the Psychology and Biblical Studies Section at the SBL Annual Meeting in New Orleans in November 2009.

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Jesus: A Psychological Biography

Capps, D. (2000). Jesus: A Psychological Biography (St. Louis: Chalice Press).

Capps, Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton, brings his considerable expertise and insight to bear on the historical Jesus. After making the case for psychohistory and taking care to set the context of the Gospel narratives in the first century, Capps explores how being a “fatherless son” might have shaped Jesus’ early experiences, how his healings might be related to dealing with people’s anxieties and whether he might be described as a “utopian-melancholic” personality. Readers may or may not find Capps convincing; no matter what, he is certainly interesting.

This book was featured in a session of the Psychology and Biblical Studies Section at the Annual Meeting in Nashville in November 2000.