Academic journal article Mennonite Quarterly Review

In Memoriam: Jean Seguy (1925-2007)

Academic journal article Mennonite Quarterly Review

In Memoriam: Jean Seguy (1925-2007)

Article excerpt

With the passing of Jean Seguy on November 9, 2007, the French-speaking world lost its most well-known scholar of Anabaptists, Mennonites and other Protestant dissident minorities. A sociologist of religion by training, Seguy helped introduce the thought of Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch into French-language teaching, writing and scholarship. His major work on Anabaptism, Les assemblees-anabaptistes de France (Paris-La Haye, Mouton, 1977) is still widely known and quoted. Written as a sociological and historical study of Mennonites in France, it begins in the sixteenth century and finishes in the 1970s. Most of what he wrote still stands up against the last thirty years of research. Seguy also reviewed more than 200 major works on Anabaptism in Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions, thereby introducing German, Italian and English-language scholarship into a world to where, Anabaptism had hitherto been largely unknown. His teaching has helped to train a new generation of French sociologists of religion.

French Mennonites remember Seguy as someone who constantly came to meetings, looked for documents, asked questions and frequently wrote articles about Mennonites in Christ Seul. Largely through Pierre Widmer, he became a true friend to many French Mennonites, and in an important way helped them reclaim a history that was mostly forgotten or unknown. Any present-day research on Anabaptist history or theology in French owes much to Jean Seguy. His research stimulated the beginnings the French Mennonite Historical Society (AFHAM) and its annual publication, Souvenance anabaptiste, whose forthcoming issue will include several articles focused on his legacy. Claude Baecher has suggested that Seguy played a crucial role in helping French Mennonites move beyond a largely negative self-image--being the object of serious scholarly research helped many to understand that the Anabaptist past was not something of which to be ashamed. …

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