Eller, Elias

Eller, Elias chief of a fanatical sect known under the name of the Ellerians, or "Communion of Ronsdorf." He was born in 1690 (according to others, in the beginning of the 18th century). He was the son of a poor peasant in the village of Ronsdorf, in the duchy of Berg, where at that time not only Pietism, but Millenarianism and "Philadelphian" mysticism had numerous adherents. He early went to Elberfeld to find employment in a manufactory, and while there he won the confidence of a rich widow, Bolckhaus, to so high a degree that she married him. Eller at this time had already gained a great influence among the Separatists in Elberfeld, as he was thoroughly acquainted with the writings of all the leading Mystics. Having become rich by his marriage, he soon (1726) organized, together with a Reformed pastor, Schleiermacher, a society of Apocalyptic Millenariars who regularly met in his house, and on meeting and separating greeted each other with a "seraphic" kiss. Among the regular attendants at these meetings was Anna von Buchel, the beautiful daughter of a baker in Elberfeld, who soon astonished the whole society by her ecstasies and visions, and by the wonderful prophecies which she proclaimed while in this condition. She claimed to hold frequent conversations with the Lord, and announced the beginning of the millennium to take place in 1730. The new doctrine found many adherents, and numbered upwards of 50 families; but the relations of Anna with Eller became at the same time so intimate that Eller's wife openly accused the two of illicit intercourse, and declared the prophecies of Anna to be a deliberate fraud. Eller declared his wife to be insane, and had her locked up, while Anna claimed to have received a revelation that Eller's wife was possessed by an evil spirit, and would soon be carried off by Satan. The whole society, even the sons of Eller's wife from her first marriage, believed this announcement, and the unfortunate woman was consequently subjected to the utmost indignities and tribulations for about six months, when death put an end to her sufferings. Almost immediately after her burial Eller married Anna von Buchel. His society was now deemed sufficiently strong to appear in public. Eller maintained, in union with the prophecies of Professor Horch in Marburg, that in accordance with Re 3:1,7, the Church of Sardis would cease in 1729, and the Church of Philadelphia begin in 1730. The revelations and visions of his wife increased rapidly. What she announced as a new revelation was laid down in a writing, which was subsequently communicated to the initiated under the name of the "Hirtentasche" ("The Shepherd's Bag"). The chief points of the new doctrines were, The Bible is the Word of God, but a new revelation has become necessary, and this is laid down in the Hirtentasche. Not only the ancient saints, but the Savior himself, will reappear upon earth. The person of the Father dwelt in Abraham, the person of the Son in Isaac, the person of the Holy Ghost in Sarah, but the fullness of the Deity in Eller. Moses, Elias, David, and Solomon were prototypes both of Christ and of Eller. The children of Anna were not the natural children of Eller, but begotten by God himself. The faithful, whose number had largely increased, were divided into three classes. To the first class belonged those who expressed belief, but were not yet made acquainted with all doctrines and secrets; to the second those who, being initiated, were called in the congregations "Persons of Rank" ("Standespersonen") to the third, the most trustworthy among the initiated, who had reached the temple, and were called "gifts" (Geschenke). The society believed that from Anna the Savior would be born a second time, and there was therefore some dissatisfaction when her first child was a daughter. Her second child, born 1733, was a son, Benjamin, and he was believed by the sect to be the Savior, manifested a second time in the flesh, but he died when only a year old. Eller, in the mean while, had sent out missionaries throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Scandinavia, but the investigations which in 1735 were made in Elberfeld concerning the meetings held by him induced him to depart in 1737, with his family, for Ronsdorf, his native place. Many of his adherents followed him immediately, and fifty new houses arose in Ronsdorf in a short time. The missionaries sent out by Eller collected large amounts of money for the new church to be built in Ronsdorf, and in 1741

Schleiermacher was called as pastor. Eller himself was elected burgomaster, and soon established a theocratic despotism. His wife Anna died in 1744, in a mysterious manner, and Eller proclaimed that all the supernatural gifts which had been possessed by Anna had been transferred to him. But now Schleiermacher began to lose his faith and even to oppose Eller, who, however, to neutralize the sermons of Schleiermacher, caused one of his most fanatical adherents, Pastor Wulffing, of Solingen, to be called as second pastor. In 1749 Eller married the widow of a rich merchant at Ronsdorf, Bosselmann, who had died under suspicious circumstances; and in the same year he procured the removal of Schleiermacher from his position of first pastor, and the election of Pastor Rudenhaus, of Rattingen, who, since 1738, had been a fanatical adherent of the sect, as his successor. Schleiermacher was, even after his departure from Ronsdorf, persecuted by Eller, who lodged with the government a formal charge of sorcery against him; and so great was still Eller's influence, that Schleiermacher deemed it best to flee to Holland. Eller died on May 16, 1750, and soon after him died also Wulffing. After the death of these two men the sect seems to have soon become extinct. Schleiermacher's innocence was, chiefly owing to the efforts of his friend J.W. Knevel, fully established by the declarations of the theological faculties of Marburg and Herborn, and the Synod of Berg. This fanaticism singularly resembles that of the Buchanites (q.v.). See Herzog, Real- Encyklop. 20:606; Knevel, Grauel d. Verwustung an heil. Statte od. d. Geheimnisse der Bosheit d. Ronsdorfer Sekte (Frankf. 1750); Wulffing, Ronsdoffischer Catechismus (Dusseldorf, 1756); Joh. Bolckhaus (step-son of Eller), Ronsdorf's gerechte Sache (Dusseldorf, 1757); Das jubelirende Ronsdorf (compiled by Wulffing, but edited by Bolckhaus, Muhlheim, 1761); Wulffing, Ronsdorf's silberne Trompete (Muhlheim, 1761); Engels, Versuch einer Gesch. d. relig, Schwarmerei im ehemal. Herzogthum Berg (Schwelm, 1826); Hase, Ch. Hist. § 421. The Hirtentasche may be found in the Histoire des Sectes Religieuses. (A.J.S.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.