Nikolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, Graf von

Zinzendorf, Nikolaus Ludwig, Graf von (nēˈkōlous lŏtˈvĭkh gräf fən tsĭnˈtsəndôrf) [key], 1700–1760, German churchman, patron and bishop of the refounded Moravian Church, b. Dresden. Reared under Pietistic influences, he was early in sympathy with the persecuted and almost extinct Moravian Brethren (often called Bohemian Brethren), to whom he offered refuge (1722) on his Saxony estates. The colony was called Herrnhut. Zinzendorf wanted the Herrnhutters to be a group within the Lutheran Church, influencing others toward deeper religious experience, but he yielded to their insistence upon refounding the ancient Moravian Brethren. He was ordered (1736) to leave Saxony because of his religious activities, and for many years thereafter he traveled about, spreading the views of the reorganized Moravian Church, of which he became bishop in 1737. In London he was cordially received (1737) by John Wesley. In America (1741–43) he was active in the noted Moravian settlement at Bethlehem, Pa., and in establishing congregations in other places in E Pennsylvania. He made attempts to gather the German sects of that colony into a unified church. In 1747, Zinzendorf was allowed to return to Herrnhut. He preached (1749–55) in England and then returned again to Herrnhut, where he spent his last years in pastoral work. His emphasis on the role of emotion in religion profoundly influenced 19th-century Protestant theology, especially the work of Friedrich Schleiermacher.

See biography by J. R. Weinlick (1956); study by A. J. Lewis (1962).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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