the Wandering Jew
The Wandering Jew
The Wandering Jew
A medieval German legend that takes several forms. Although writers and details differ, the essential features of the narratives that have been handed down to us are basically the same.
The legend is that as Christ was being dragged on his way to Calvary, he passed the house of a Jew and stopped there, being weary under the weight of his cross. The Jew, however, inspired by the mob, would not allow him to rest there and drove him on. Jesus, looking at him, said, "I shall stand and rest, but thou shalt go till the last day." The Jew was compelled to wander over the Earth until this prophecy was fulfilled.
In some parts of Germany, the Wandering Jew theme has been identified with the wild huntsman myth, while in several French districts that mythical character is regarded as the wind of the night. This legend was treated in literary fashion by Eugène Sue in his novel Le Juif errant (10 vols., 1844-45) and by the British author George Croly in his novel Salathiel; A Story of the Past, The Present and The Future (1829). Something of the same atmosphere also pervades the legend of the Flying Dutchman.
Wandering Jew (in legend)
Wandering Jew, in literary and popular legend, a Jew who mocked or mistreated Jesus while he was on his way to the cross and who was condemned therefore to a life of wandering on earth until Judgment Day. The story of this wanderer was first recorded in the chronicles of Roger of Wendover and Matthew of Paris (13th cent.), but not until the early 17th cent. was he identified as a Jew. The story is common in Western Europe, but it presents marked national variations. Among the innumerable treatments of the subject is Shelley's Queen Mab.
See G. K. Anderson, The Legend of the Wandering Jew (1965); G. Hasan-Rokem and A. Dundes, ed., The Wandering Jew: Essays in the Interpretation of a Christian Legend (1986).