Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 497–508 | Cite as

Psychobiography and the Psychology of Religion: A Tribute to the Work of Donald Capps

  • Janet JacobsEmail author
Original Paper


This article examines Donald Capps’s work on the psychology of major religious figures and the social forces that informed their psychic lives, spiritual worldviews, and teachings. Drawing on four texts that were published between 2000 and 2014, the essay explores Capps’s views on the importance of psychobiography to the study of religion and the specific contributions his thinking has made to a greater understanding of the historical Jesus. The article considers Capps’s analysis of Jesus’s illegitimacy and his role as healer within the society in which he lived and preached. Building on Capps’s work, the article also expands on feminist and postcolonial theories that offer insight into the psychosocial development of religious figures whose teachings and beliefs emerged out of their individual life circumstances and the larger socio-political culture in which they lived.


Donald Capps Psychology of religion Psychobiography of religious figures 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animals Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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