The conversion of the purported Jewish messiah Sabbatai Zevi to Islam in 1666 created acrisis among his followers. Many returned to mainstream Judaism; others remained secretSabbateans. However, a small group in Salonika followed their master into apostasy, convertingto Islam in imitation of Sabbatai Zevi. This group, known as the Donme, was very homogenousat the beginning; its members were few in number, knew each other well, and tended to berelated to one another. However, shortly after the death of Sabbatai Zevi they split into threefactions (a fourth, the Frankists, arose later in Europe), who differed greatly from each other inorganization, ritual, and theology. This thesis examines two main distinctions between the groups that led to their divergentoutcomes. First, I examine the differences in modes of authority between the groups. In order todo this, I conceptualize two models of authority, the mundane and the charismatic (loosely basedon Bruce Lincoln and Max Weber’s theories of authority). The four groups are compared andcontrasted 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 andlegitimated itself as the rightful successors to his legacy. In this case this thesis distinguishesamong legitimacies conveyed by the body of the messiah, the soul of the messiah, and the ideasand 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.