Matthieu Arnold elected correspondent of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres

Matthieu Arnold, professor of modern history at the Faculty of Protestant Theology of the University of Strasbourg, has been a close cooperation partner of the Institute for Ecumenical Research for many years. In March 2021, he received a special award, which we would like to briefly report here. We congratulate Matthieu Arnold on the award and wish him all the best and continued success for his future research work!

On behalf of the entire staff
Jennifer Wasmuth
Director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research

Matthieu Arnold has been elected Correspondent of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres at the end of March 2021. This is a special honor for the theologian, who is particularly interested in the Reformers.
After graduating from high school with a focus on mathematics, Matthieu Arnold studied Protestant theology in Strasbourg and at the Institute of European History in Mainz; he earned his doctorate in 1994 and became a pastor first in Strasbourg and then in Baerenthal (Lorraine). „I enjoyed my studies so much that I decided to continue my research for the habilitation while working as a pastor.“ In 1997, he obtained a position as professor of modern and contemporary Christian history at the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Strasbourg, where he heads the research group in modern history.

A French anthology of texts from the Strasbourg Reformation.
His work concerns two periods: First, the beginning of the Reformation through the study of the main reformers. Together with the theologian Marc Lienhard, Matthieu Arnold has led the publication of Martin Luther’s works in the „Bibliothèque de la Pléiade“ (1999 and 2017). This involves more than 80 texts. “ Since 1995, I have also been working on the publication of the correspondence in original language of Strasbourg’s Martin Bucer, also a 16th-century reformer. He is a pioneer of ecumenism whose writing is very difficult to read.“

Currently Matthieu Arnold is working on a French anthology of Strasbourg Reformation texts, including writings by Catherine Zell that have not yet been published in French. Some of his sources lie dormant in the Strasbourg city archives. Another period particularly interests Matthieu Arnold: the first half of the 20th century and the study of Protestant thinkers such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, resistance fighter during the Third Reich, and Albert Schweitzer, whose „Years in Alsace“ he has studied.
For him, his election as French correspondent of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres is a recognition of both his work and his research group at the Faculty of Protestant Theology.

„This proves that the Faculty of Protestant Theology has its place in academia; this election is both a personal pleasure and a broader recognition,“ says the researcher, who is already looking forward to regularly attending Académie meetings and thus being in contact with scholars from many exciting fields. „I hope this can lead to new collaborations.“

L’Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres
The Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres was founded by Colbert in 1663 and is one of the five academies of the Institut de France. Its aim is to develop and promote research through the prizes it awards in various fields of history, archaeology, art history, philology and linguistics, literature, intellectual history and related disciplines (epigraphy, numismatics, diplomacy, etc.). It publishes high level works. It consists of two categories of members elected for life: correspondents and academics – „the latter wear the green habit,“ says the researcher. Every four to five years, depending on vacancies, the contingent of 50 French correspondents is renewed by the election of eight new members. „You never ask for it yourself, you are proposed by one or more academics. The correspondents do not take part in the election; they represent, so to speak, the antechamber of the Academy,“ Matthieu Arnold explains, adding that the Academy publishes the oldest scientific journal still in existence, the Journal des savants, founded in 1665.


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