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).
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