Zeisset, Abraham (d. ca. 1786)

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Abraham Zeisset (d. c1786), from 1749 an elder of the Immelhausen and Hasselbach Mennonite congregations in Baden, Germany. In 1783 he moved to Willenbach in Württemberg and served the Willenbach congregation until his death. He played a role in the strife that developed among the South German Mennonites to the left and the right of the Rhine in the 18th century. The occasion for the disputes was the activity of the strongly pietistic Mennonite preacher Peter Weber of Hardenberg. Weber's justified interest in awakening new life in the Mennonite congregations which were in many cases congealed in tradition met with opposition to the left of the Rhine under the leadership of Jakob Hirschler of Gerolsheim and a strongly conservative group; on the right of the Rhine from 1766 on, Abraham Zeisset was his most active opponent. Contemporary documents and letters about that quarrel indicate that Zeisset certainly had the honorable intention of preserving the old Anabaptist individuality and of representing it with conviction. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that he was guilty of personal obstinacy and unbrotherly attitudes.

The quarrel began when Zeisset deposed from their office on the strength of his own authority the preachers Georg and Abraham Bechtel, Jost Glück, and Jakob Krehbiel, who were spiritually alive and were friends of Peter Weber. This created great offense in the congregations of these men. They feared a division similar to the one caused by Jakob Ammann. On 14 and 15 October 1766 a conference took place at Rauhof in which three Swiss Mennonites participated besides the ministers of Baden and the Palatinate. Zeisset himself had invited them. The peace that resulted from this meeting was unfortunately of short duration. The newly awakened disunity was so severe that in 1767 the spring communion was not observed in North Baden.

In 1770 a new effort was made to bring about peace at a conference of elders and preachers on the Himmelhäuserhof (today Immelhäuserhof). Zeisset and other leaders of the dispute were sent back from communion "impartially and without respect of person" for Easter of that year, temporarily removed from the office of preaching, and asked to apologize for their previous hostile attitude. But the strife was not yet completely removed. Zeisset even appealed to the civil authorities for help. Not until 1782 was the affair settled.

Abraham Zeisset was also for a time engaged in correspondence between the West Prussian and the South German congregations. But after he had offended other correspondents of the South German congregations and did not succeed in drawing the West Prussians to his side, he dropped out of this circular letter. His relationship with the Swiss Brethren on the whole remained clear, although they were by no means all on his side. In spite of the differing judgments concerning Zeisset, it must be reckoned as a service on his part that he contributed to the closer union between the South German Mennonites of that time and their Swiss brethren.


Geiser, Samuel. Die Taufgesinnten-Gemeinden. Karlsruhe, 1931. 456 f.

Gratz, Delbert. L. Bernese Anabaptists and their American descendants. Goshen, Ind. : Mennonite Historical Society, 1953. Reprinted Elverson, Pa. : Published by Old Springfield Shoppe, 1994, c1981

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: vol. IV.

Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1930): 139 ff.; (1932): 115.

Müller, Ernst. Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer. Frauenfeld: Huber, 1895. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. de Graaf, 1972: 213.

Author(s) Paul Showalter
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Showalter, Paul. "Zeisset, Abraham (d. ca. 1786)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 Oct 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zeisset,_Abraham_(d._ca._1786)&oldid=144098.

APA style

Showalter, Paul. (1959). Zeisset, Abraham (d. ca. 1786). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 October 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zeisset,_Abraham_(d._ca._1786)&oldid=144098.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1022. All rights reserved.

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