And the Spirit of Sabbatai Zevi Moved Upon the Waters: Modes of Authority and the Development of the Donme Sects

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And the Spirit of Sabbatai Zevi Moved Upon the Waters: Modes of Authority and the Development of the Donme Sects

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Title: And the Spirit of Sabbatai Zevi Moved Upon the Waters: Modes of Authority and the Development of the Donme Sects
Author: Benjamin, Paul
Advisor: Velji, Jamel A.
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Religion
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The conversion of the purported Jewish messiah Sabbatai Zevi to Islam in 1666 created a crisis among his followers. Many returned to mainstream Judaism; others remained secret Sabbateans. However, a small group in Salonika followed their master into apostasy, converting to Islam in imitation of Sabbatai Zevi. This group, known as the Donme, was very homogenous at the beginning; its members were few in number, knew each other well, and tended to be related to one another. However, shortly after the death of Sabbatai Zevi they split into three factions (a fourth, the Frankists, arose later in Europe), who differed greatly from each other in organization, ritual, and theology. This thesis examines two main distinctions between the groups that led to their divergent outcomes. First, I examine the differences in modes of authority between the groups. In order to do this, I conceptualize two models of authority, the mundane and the charismatic (loosely based on Bruce Lincoln and Max Weber’s theories of authority). The four groups are compared and contrasted based on the degree to which they rely on each of the modes of authority. I also examine the ways in which each group linked itself to Sabbatai Zevi and legitimated itself as the rightful successors to his legacy. In this case this thesis distinguishes among legitimacies conveyed by the body of the messiah, the soul of the messiah, and the ideas and teachings of the messiah. Each of these pathways was claimed by one of the major groups, with major implications for the sect’s theology and ideology.
Subject: Authority -- Religious aspects
Subject: Sabbathaians -- History
Subject: Shabbethai Tzevi, 1626-1676
Subject: Dönmeh -- History
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/8207

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Benjamin, Paul. "And the Spirit of Sabbatai Zevi Moved Upon the Waters: Modes of Authority and the Development of the Donme Sects". 2012. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/8207.

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