Creation of an Elisabeth Behr-Sigel Archive at the Institute

The Institute for Ecumenical Strasbourg is pleased to announce the creation of an archive of books and articles by and about Elisabeth Behr-Sigel (1907–2005). This well-regarded Orthodox theologian and ecumenist was born in Strasbourg and was one of the first women to graduate with a degree in theology from the University of Strasbourg. It is thus extremely fitting that this collection should find a home in Strasbourg.

Behr-Sigel was the author of seven books, many of which were translated into other languages, including English, Bulgarian, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and Greek. She was also a prolific author of articles, reports, and book reviews. The archive at the Institute holds copies of all of her books in French, along with several English translations. This collection includes a first edition of Behr-Sigel’s Prière et Sainteté dans l’Eglise Russe, with the pages still uncut, and a rare copy of her dissertation on Alexander Bukharev, which was recalled from publication soon after its release, apparently for its controversial content.

In addition to the books, most of Behr-Sigel’s published articles in French and English are collected in the archive. Most useful for future researchers are her many brief reports and meditations that appeared in Bulletin de la Crypte, the parish newsletter of the francophone Orthodox community in Paris, which are otherwise quite hard to access. The archive additionally includes certain unpublished papers from conferences and private letters, including specimens of her handwriting. Finally, researchers will find a number of reviews of Behr-Sigel’s own books and theology in the collection, and Olga Lossky’s biography of Behr-Sigel, Vers le Jour sans Déclin, along with the English translation Toward the Endless Day.

The archive was established by Prof. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson of the Institute, who met Behr-Sigel in 2000 in Paris and went on to write her dissertation on Behr-Sigel’s advocacy of women in the priesthood. This research was published as Woman, Women, and the Priesthood in the Trinitarian Theology of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel (T & T Clark, 2013). This book, which can also be found in the Institute library, contains the most complete bibliography of Behr-Sigel’s writings to date, including careful tracing of reprints of articles in different venues.

Books held in the archive by Elisabeth-Behr Sigel:

  • Prière et Sainteté dans l’Eglise Russe, first edition (1950) and reprint edition (1982)
  • Alexandre Boukharev, un Théologien de l’Eglise Orthodoxe Russe en Dialogue avec le Monde Moderne (1977)
  • Le Ministère de la Femme dans l’Eglise (1987), plus English translation The Ministry of Women in the Church (1991)
  • Le Lieu du Coeur: Initiation à la Spiritualité Orthodoxe (1989), plus English translation The Place of the Heart (1992)
  • Lev Gillet, “Un Moine de l’Eglise d’Orient” (1993)
  • L’Ordination des Femmes dans l’Eglise Orthodoxe, with Kallistos Ware (1998), plus English translation The Ordination of Women in the Orthodox Church (2000)
  • Discerner les Signes du Temps (2002)