Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Otto Grundler

Second Advisor

Dr. Ernst Breisach

Third Advisor

Dr. Guntram Bischoff

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Peter Erb

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


In 1817 a little-known group of German Separatists fled religious persecution in Wurttemberg and took up residence in America. Eventually known as the Zoarites, they founded a religious commune in the northeastern Ohio wilderness in 1819, which they called Zoar, and continued to live the common life there until 1898, at which time they voted to disband.

What sort of religious beliefs led them to endure persecution in Germany and then to establish a religious commune in Ohio? This study was undertaken in part to answer just such questions. Relying primarily on the unpublished, largely untranslated discourses of J. M. Bimeler, the leader of the Zoarites until 1853j the author learned that the Zoarites were Radical Pietists, whose religious origins lay in German Pietism, Bohmist and Quietist mysticism, and the Radical Reformation of the sixteenth century. This study focuses on the Wiedergeburt, or rebirth, as the central theme in Bimeler's discourses.