One institution but two sites
Since 1972, the Protestant Institute of Theology has merged into one structure both the protestant theology universities of Montpellier and Paris. There are 300 full-time students as well as others who do not actually take an exam or who follow continuous education programmes. At the beginning, the first cycle of studies took place in Paris and the second in Montpellier, but this is not always the case nowadays – the teachers, however, usually teach in both places.
The Faculties have had similar and also different histories, but both cater for a variety of protestant traditions, stretching from liberalism on the one side to “orthodoxy” on the other ; the different tendencies have not always co-existed harmoniously.
The Faculty of Montpellier was founded in 1919, so that the Faculty of Montauban could be transferred to a university town. This is where nearly all the future pastors of the protestant Church used to prepare their theological studies, together with Strasburg University, in the XIXth century in France. Montauban was founded in 1809 within the jurisdiction of the Académie de Toulouse and was not situated far from the former Académie Protestante (which dated back to 1598).
The first deans of Montpellier were Henri Bois (1862-1924) and Léon Maury (1863-1931), two theologians who were particularly aware of the social problems of their time and the progress of research in social science. Since then, many remarkable professors have taught critical exegesis of the Old and New Testament (Wilhelm Vischer), Church history, classical languages, systematic theology (André Gounelle), practical theology, social issues, philosophy, ethics. The Protestant Institute of Theology has enabled the Faculty of Montpellier to improve its courses in social science and to work with many other international universities ; this has led to many original study projects, such as those associated with Paul Tillich and the theology of Process. It is also linked to state universities in the area of Provence/Alpes/Côte d’Azur.
The Faculty of Paris was founded in 1877 when two university teachers from Strasburg took refuge in Paris because they could not and would not teach in a university which had been taken over by the Germans since defeat in 1870. Thus it was that, for the first time since the beginning of the Reform Movement in France, there was a theological college in Paris for future pastors, missionaries and theologians. The above mentioned professors had the added advantage of possessing a deep knowledge of the historical-critical School of text analysis which had been developed in Germany (this was the case for Adolf van Harnack in particular).
From the beginning, the Paris Faculty, situated in Boulevard Arago, had an open attitude in its teaching and research. The professors contributed significantly to the new Social Christianity movement. They also participated in other contemporary issues, such as the reforms and modernization of the State university and the modernist crisis. Among them, we can mention Frédéric Lichtenberger, Adolphe Lods, Wilfred Monod and Raoul Allier. And then under the dynamic influence of Pierre Maury, as well as Jean Bosc, Georges Casalis, André Dumas and Oscar Culman, the Faculty began to teach the works of Karl Barth.
The Protestant Institute of Theology has enabled the Paris Theology Faculty to diversify its activities. For example, there has been more frequent contact with the section of religious Science in the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, with the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and with the various different Faculties (philosophy, theology, the Institut Supérieur d’Etudes Oecumeniques – ISEO) of the Institut Catholique de Paris.
The Auditoire Protestant works in association with the Faculty. This is a conference and study centre under the aegis of the Eglise Réformée de France.
The philosopher Paul Ricoeurhas left his private library to the Faculty in his will.
The Protestant Institute
81 Boulevard Arago, 75014 Paris, France
- The Montauban Faculty of Theology in the 19th century
- The Independent Evangelical Theological Faculty of Vaux-sur-Seine
- The Faculty of Protestant theology in Paris