Princeton Theologian Donald Capps Dead at Age 76


Theologian and retired Princeton Theological Seminary Professor Donald Capps died Wednesday night as a result of injuries he sustained in a car crash on Library Place earlier in the day, police confirmed this afternoon.

Capps, a beloved professor at the seminary for many years who was known for his kind, calm and gentle spirit, taught pastoral theology. He authored numerous books and articles and led various organizations during his career.

“Don Capps represented the very best in our profession,” Princeton Theological Seminary President Craig Barnes said. “He was an accomplished scholar whose works shaped the field of pastoral theology. He was a beloved teacher who taught generations of future pastors to care not only for others but for themselves. He made a lasting impact on the church and our campus community, and we will miss him dearly.”

In 1981 he joined the Princeton Theological Seminary faculty, where he was appointed the William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Theology. In 2009 he retired with the status of professor emeritus, but continued to lecture as an adjunct professor.

In 1989 Uppsala University in Sweden awarded him a degree of Doctor honoris causa in Theology for his contributions to the psychology of religion.

He was the book review editor for the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion between 1980 and 1983 and the 1983 and 1988. From 1990 to 1992 he was the president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

He was an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 1972.

Capps was driving a Volkswagon Beetle heading north on Library Place Wednesday when he collided with another vehicle and smashed into a brick wall and tree. Capps was pronounced dead at 8:54 p.m. Wednesday night at the Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. His wife, Karen Capps, was a passenger in the vehicle and also sustained injuries. She is in stable condition.

Police are still investigating the crash.


  1. Kind article, but one error. He wasn’t retired. He was scheduled to teach classes when the semester started next week.

    1. He was retired and had emeritus status. He retired in 2009. He was still teaching at the seminary as an emeritus professor. Thanks for your comment/feedback.

  2. Professor Capps was such a wise and gentle soul. He will be missed. Praying for Karen.

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