Martin A. Larson (1897-1994) was an American scholar and author who specialized in religious history, comparative religion, the origins and evolution of Christianity, the life and work of Thomas Jefferson, and taxation and money issues. He was a free-thinker and a populist, and an ardent defender of individual freedom, both political and religious.
He was born in Whitehall , Michigan . His upbringing was fundamentalist Christian, but even as a youth he had "doubts concerning its dogmas and practices." And although he rejected that outlook when he was about 20, he explained during a talk given in 1978, "I never lost an interest in religion as a social phenomenon or in its influence upon mankind."
Following service in the U.S. Navy, he graduated from Kalamazoo College in Michigan , where he had distinguished himself in track, forensics and scholarship. With a state fellowship, he went on to study at the University of Michigan , where he earned a Ph.D. in English literature. His doctoral work on the unorthodox religious views of John Milton was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1927 under the title The Modernity of Milton, a book that was re-issued in several later editions.
After teaching at what is later became Eastern Michigan University and the University of Idaho , he embarked on a business career. He was so successful that he was able to retire after 15 years at the age of 53 to devote the remainder of his life to study, research, writing and lecturing.
Dr. Larson was a guest many times on radio and television. He was the author of countless articles essays and reviews. His writings in appeared in a range of periodicals, including Fortune, Parade and Reader's Digest. For many years his weekly column, "Our World in Conflict," appeared in The Spotlight, a paper published by Liberty Lobby in Washington , DC .
Larson was the author of more than 20 books, which was issued in hundreds of thousands of copies. Among his books were: New Thought: A Modern Religious Approach; The Essene-Christian Faith; The Story of Christian Origins; The I.R.S. vs. The Middle Class; Martin Larson's Best; The Continuing Tax Rebellion; The Story of Christian Origins; The Federal Reserve; The Great Tax Fraud ; and, Jefferson: Magnificent Populist.
On several occasions Dr. Larson addressed meetings of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). He spoke at the first IHR conference, held at Northrop University in Los Angeles in 1979, dedicating it to the memory of his friend of many years, historian Harry Elmer Barnes. Larson concluded his address with the words: "Let this convention be a memorial to this great and courageous man, and let his great spirit, which never was daunted by obstacles or threats, permeate our own work while we are here."
His talk at the Third IHR Conference in 1981 was entitled "Whatever Happened to the Dead Sea Scrolls?" The next year he addressed the Fourth IHR conference with a talk titled "Modern Israeli Policy and Old Testament Prophecy." And his address at the Eighth IHR Conference in 1987 was titled "An Update on the Dead Sea Scrolls."
He served as a member of the Editorial Advisory Committee of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review from its first issue in 1980 until his death. Over the years four articles by Dr. Larson appeared in the Journal.
During the final years of his life he lived in Phoenix , Arizona , with his wife, Emma.