Eternal Jew

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The Wandering Jew by Gustave Doré
Adaptation of the motif “Eternal Jew”, Basel, 1820–1840, Jewish Museum of Switzerland

The Eternal Jew (also wandering Jew ) is a figure from Christian folk tales that originated in the 13th century. The stories originally addressed a person of unknown origin who mocked Jesus Christ on his way to the crucifixion and was cursed by him to wander immortally through the world. The anonymous German-language people's book of the Eternal Jew , published in Leiden 1602, made a Jew out of this figure and gave him the name Ahasuerus ( Ahasuerus , an allusion to a Persian king). This variant spread across Europe . The Leiden legend goes back to older models: In the oldest versions, however, there was no mention of a Jew: there the eternal wanderer was called Cartaphilus and is said to have been a - probably Roman - gatekeeper of Pilate and one of the soldiers who brought Jesus to the crucifixion led.

The figure of the Jew, who wandered eternally through the ages, went down in folk tales in various countries under different names ( Cartaphilus , Buttadeus , Mattathias , Paul Marrane and others). The name Isaac Laquedem is common in France, both from legends and from a novella by Alexandre Dumas .

Since then, it has been the subject of numerous literary works, art and music. She played in anti-Semitism through to Nazi propaganda in the era of National Socialism a role.


The Wandering Jew by Samuel Hirszenberg , 1899

The legend of 1602 contains the basic features of all of the following variants: The shoemaker Ahasver lived in Jerusalem around the year 30 , thought Jesus of Nazareth was a heretic and did everything to convince the Sanhedrin , Levites and Kohanim to condemn him and to crucify him to be reached by Pontius Pilate . It was he who asked the people to crucify him! got incited. After Jesus was sentenced to death and had to carry his cross himself to the place of execution Golgotha , Ahasver refused Jesus a short rest at his front door on the Way of the Cross. Then Jesus looked at him and said to him:

"I want to stand and rest, but you should go!"

With this curse Ahasver was condemned to eternal wandering through time without being able to die. Since then he has been wandering all over the world, where new witnesses keep seeing him and talking to him. He always speaks the national language and shows humility and fear of God. Most recently he was in Hamburg and came to Danzig in 1599 .

The Schleswig Bishop Paul von Eitzen († 1598), to whom the author owes this story, he listened to preaching in 1542 during his student days. When he saw the movement of his strange listener when the name Jesus Christ was mentioned, he asked him. Ahasver told him that he did not know what God was planning to do with him. But he thinks that God wills

"Perhaps have a living witness against the Jews, thereby reminding the unbelievers and ungodly of Christ's death and wanting to be converted to repentance ."

Shortly before his death, the bishop passed this report on to the author, who used the pseudonym Chrysostomus Dudulaeus Westphalus .


In the 13th century, a Latin chronicle from Bologna and the English chronicler Roger von Wendover reported a similar story for the first time in his Weltchronik Flores Historiarum (Flowers of History) (written 1204-1234). Both different versions cited an archbishop from Armenia who visited England in 1228 . According to the version of Wendover's world chronicle, passed on by Matthäus Paris in 1252, the monks of the monastery of St Albans questioned him, who had heard of a living eyewitness to the death of Jesus. These rumors, which were already circulating in mainland Europe, probably came from crusaders who had heard them in the Orient. According to his French translator, the Armenian bishop confirmed it: he himself met this eyewitness in Armenia and spoke to him often. He called himself Cartaphilos and introduced himself as Pilate's doorkeeper. After Pilate's death sentence, he had driven Jesus with fist blows on the way to the crucifixion to walk faster than the latter put down his cross for a moment to take a breather and called to him: “Go on quickly, Jesus! Move on quickly! Why do you dawdle? ” Jesus replied“ with a serious expression ”, as it is said, “ I will stand and rest, but you must go on until the last day. ” The Armenian archbishop reported that Cartaphilos, whose origin is not mentioned, to Christianity converted and then baptized in the name of Joseph . He lives as a hermit in the Orient and dedicates his wandering days to proselytizing. When asked, he gave information about his experiences without accepting any reward and hoped to be redeemed in the final judgment . He ages like an ordinary person, but at the age of 100 he is regularly set back to the age - by 30 years - that he had when he met Jesus. - Philippe Mouskes from Flanders , author of a rhyming chronicle (around 1243), was also familiar with this legend.

In the more popular version since 1602, he became a Jewish shoemaker named Ahasuerus , who lived on the Via Dolorosa and was a servant of the high priest .

Biblical points of contact

Motif of the “Eternal Jew” in a study for the preparation of the painting Christ before Pilate , Mihály von Munkácsy , 1880
Christ before Pilate , Mihály von Munkácsy, 1881

The New Testament (NT) mentions various servants and soldiers in the context of the Passion stories who are said to have mistreated Jesus and who were identified with the Eternal Wanderer or Eternal Jew in later versions of the Ahasver legend :

  • Malchus , a member of the armed temple guard who was supposed to arrest Jesus, is said to have encountered resistance from Simon Peter , who cut off his ear with his sword ( Jn 18 : 1-10  EU ).
  • Another unnamed servant is said to have been present at the interrogation of Jesus by Annas and his successor Kajaphas and to have hit Jesus in the face when he referred the high priest to the public witnesses of his sermon ( Jn 18 : 22-23  EU ). This was already identified by early church authors such as John Chrysostom with Malchus, making him particularly contemptible.
  • Various unnamed Roman soldiers tortured Jesus before they crucified him (including Mk 15: 16-19  EU ). The high priest's Jewish servants are also said to have mistreated him ( Mk 14.65  EU ).
  • In some versions of the legend, Ahasver was also identified with the Roman, later named Longinus , whose spear cut finally brought about or at least confirmed Jesus' death according to Jn 19.34  EU .

Some historical studies also explain the legend with Joh 21,22f  EU , where Jesus says to Peter about his favorite disciple John : “If I want him to stay alive until I come again, what is it to you? - Then the rumor went out from the brothers: This disciple will not die. ”But the evangelist rejects this very opinion: Jesus did not say that the disciple would not die, only that he could let him live until his second coming if he wants. Since the disciples expected Jesus 'return while they were still alive, but this did not materialize, later Christians created the legend of the eternal wanderer in order to maintain faith in the circumstances of Jesus' death and his parousia .

According to Christian interpretation, a biblical analogy for the wandering Jew can also be seen in Cain , whom God also condemned to restless wandering on earth after his fratricide of Abel ( Gen 4:12  EU ), but at the same time protected him from homicide with a symbol ( Gen 4, 15  EU ). Cain is said to have migrated to the land of Nod and founded the first cities. The name is derived from Hebrew nad and means "restless".

Ahasuerus was originally a Persian name. In the Bible he refers to various ancient great kings, including Xerxes I (486–465 BC). In the Book of Esther is Ahasuerus mentioned, the Jewess Ester took to the main woman, whose name was to the medieval Judaism as Moralanekdote for a fool. In Christian legends, the name was then related to a Jew condemned to eternal wandering by Jesus, who was an eyewitness to the death of Jesus and who is said to have contributed to his suffering.

In some cases, the Eternal Jew was also associated with the celebrated Joseph of Arimathäa , a wealthy Jew who was probably already a member of the Jewish Christian community of Jesus. It was said about Joseph of Arimathea that he had spoken to Jesus and was still alive.


In the 13th century, the astrologer Guido Bonatti reported that the eternal wanderer was seen in Forlì in Italy in 1267 . The chronicler Tizio zu Siena reported the same from the 14th century. He called the wanderer Giovanni Buttadeo ("Strike God"), thus building on the version of Wendover. In the later Italian folklore, Buttadeo was called the "cast out by God" and identified with the Eternal Jew. From there it also came to Brittany ( Boudedeo ).

These older versions were only distributed regionally, but not otherwise in Europe. Only the version from 1602 spoke explicitly of a Jew and changed the legend in some other details. Within a very short space of time it found numerous reprints in many European countries. In the 17th century there are already 70 German-language editions known, more than 100 more from the Netherlands , France , England, Italy, Denmark , Sweden , Estonia , Finland and Poland .

The legend was embellished in many ways and various names were given to Ahasver, for example Isaak Laquedem in Holland, Juan Espera-en-Dios ("Hope in God") in Spain. There he is supposed to wear a black bandage on his forehead, which covers a flaming cross that devours his brain as quickly as it grows. This motif seems to have been added as an association to Mk 15.19  EU , where the Romans hit Jesus on the head. It connects a head wound with the motif of the constantly growing injured organ, which probably comes from the Prometheus legend. This was also subjected to an eternal curse of not being able to die and having to suffer.

Interpretation tradition

The Wandering Eternal Jew , woodcut after Gustave Doré, 1852, reproduction in an exhibition in Yad Vashem , 2007

Almost all of the local and folk legends that have been passed down mainly orally originated after 1602 and were based on the Leyden legend. But they soon released the eternal wanderer from his relationship with the Passion of Jesus and made him a symbol for the history of the suffering of all Judaism . His restlessness was no longer understood as a divine punishment caused by concrete guilt, but as a natural quality of all Jews.

The Lutheran theologian and Orientalist Johann Jacob Schudt (1664–1722) gave the following interpretation to the figure in his work Jewish Merckworthiness (1714–1717):

"This circulating Jew is not an individual person, but the whole Jewish after the crucifixion of Christ in all the world, wandering and after Christ's testimony, biting people who remained."

Around 1840 there was an intense debate in Prussia about Jewish emancipation , which has been going on since Bruno Bauer's 1843 essay entitled The Jewish Question . In this context, Constantin Frantz published the essay Ahasuerus or the Jewish question in 1844 . It said:

“The Jewish people themselves are the eternal Jew. It has rejected the Savior , and so it is scattered over the whole earth and finds nowhere rest; it wants to mix with the peoples and thus kill its nationality , and it cannot ... "

The Swiss poet Gottfried Keller contrasted the immortal Jewish people with the ephemeral, earthly peoples in his novella The Little Flag of the Seven Upright People from 1860: They drag themselves along

"... like the eternal Jew who cannot die, subservient to all newly formed peoples, he who buried the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans."

The earth belongs to the mortal peoples, they have the right to rule it, while the people of the Jews continue to exist sinisterly and senselessly. The figure thus became a symbol for the wandering, the insatiable, the foreign, the incapable of being integrated, also for the ingenious, the degenerate and the decadence . These stereotypes , detached from the origin of the legend, became part of anti-Semitism. The Nazis , she reached up and used the figure for his Nazi propaganda. In 1930, Alfred Rosenberg's Myth of the 20th Century linked the stereotype of the "eternal Jew" with that of the Jewish parasite in order to demonize the Jewish minority :

“When the power of a Nordic spiritual flight begins to weaken somewhere, then the earthly heavy being of Ahasver sucks itself on the flagging muscles; wherever any wound is torn open on the body of a nation, the Jewish demon always eats its way into the sick place and uses the weak hours of the greats of this world as a parasite . His senses are not to fight for rule as a hero, but to make the world ' interest- bearing ' guides the fantastically strong parasite. Don't argue, but creep; not serving values, but exploiting devaluation, is his law, according to which he entered and which he can never escape - as long as he exists. "

Exhibition The Eternal Jew in the Deutsches Museum (Munich) from 7–8. November 1937

In 1935, Heinrich Himmler called the eternal Jew in a speech to the SS leaders “leader of the murderous subhumans ”. Inciting hatred of Jews was also the purpose of the lavishly produced propaganda film The Eternal Jew , which was shown for the first time on November 28, 1940.

The Ahas-laying legend is still widely used in literary terms ( Achim von Arnim , Berthold Auerbach , Ludwig Bechstein , Clemens von Brentano , Adelbert von Chamisso , Wilhelm Hauff , Heinrich Heine , Nikolaus Lenau , Adalbert Stifter , Richard Wagner , and then in the 20th century by Nelly Sachs , Stefan Heym and Walter Jens ) - ambivalently demanding pity and used as a projection surface to interpret Jewish identity and for anti-Jewish agitation. In its programmatic manual , which goes back to the founder Gabriele Bitterlich , the Engelwerk interprets Ahasver as a “fallen archangel” and “spirit of the cursed Jewish people” (p. 244). Behind this stands the traditional anti-Judaist identification of Judaism with Lucifer as the devil .

François Georgin : The Wandering Jew , 1896


The following names have been given to the Eternal Jew over the centuries:

  • Ahasuerus / Ahasuerus / Ahasuerus
  • Cartaphilos / Cartaphilus
  • Giovanni Buttadeo / Buttadeus / Boudedeo ("Beat God")
  • Isaac Laquedem
  • Joseph
  • Juan Espera-en-Dios ("Hope in God")
  • Longinus
  • Malchus
  • Matathias
  • Paul Marrane

Artistic processing

The figure of the Eternal Jew has stimulated new editions and research into old legends on the one hand, and numerous epic, lyrical and dramatic literary works, operas and pictorial representations on the other. It was made the main theme, woven into the presentation of other subjects, or used as a symbol for certain ideas, principles and references to the present. In the process, the features of the Christian legend were expanded, changed, linked with other motifs and placed in new contexts.

This creative interest began in the Age of Enlightenment and continued particularly in German Romanticism : At that time, the character became so popular as a novel that Heinrich Heine spoke of the myth of the eternal Jew in 1826 . The post-war - and DDR -literature has this myth revisited.

Epic works, novels

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe sketched 1774/1775 in From my life. Poetry and Truth a large-scale epic that should make Ahasver a hero and bring into conversation with Baruch de Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher of Jewish origin at the time . However, it remained a fragment.
  • Heinrich August Ottokar Reichard : Library of the novels , from it Der Ewige Jude. History or folk novel, whatever you want (1780). The Eternal Jew is here, without any anti-Jewish connotation, a friendly witness of historical turning points up to the present day of the author; he eventually becomes a Freemason .
  • Jan Potocki (1761–1815): The Saragossa Manuscript , 1803–1815
  • Charles Robert Maturin (1780-1824): Melmoth the Wanderer (English Melmoth the Wanderer). One of the most powerful poems of the so-called Gothic novel , in which the motif of the Eternal Jew is combined with the Faust material.
  • Wilhelm Hauff (1802–1827) lets the devil meet the Eternal Jew in the communications from the memoirs of Satan (1826).
  • Franz Christoph Horn : Ahasver (novella) 1827
  • Edgar Quinet : Ahasvère (1833), Mystery as "History of the world, of God in the world and of doubt in the world"
  • Claude Tillier : My Uncle Benjamin , 1842 (In the satirical novel, the country doctor Benjamin fools the inhabitants of a remote village by pretending to be the eternal Jew and his sister the Virgin Mary .)
  • Adalbert Stifter : Abdias , 1843
  • Eugène Sue : Le Juif errant (German: "The Wandering Jew") 10 volumes, 1844–1845. Here the Eternal Jew stands up for the “religion of love” and is accompanied by an Eternal Jewess.
  • Hans Christian Andersen : Ahasverus (1847). Andersen makes the Jew an "angel of doubt" and at the same time a representative of the rigid Jehovah faith.
  • Levin Schücking : The Peasant Prince (1851), in it the episode The three suitors
  • Robert Hamerling : Ahasver in Rome (1866)
  • Bernhard Giseke: Ahasuerus, the Eternal Jew (1868), as the type of the doubter
  • Joseph Christian von Zedlitz : The wanderings of Ahasuerus , fragment. Here the Eternal Jew is the symbol of all Weltschmerz .
  • Viktor Rydberg : Prometheus and Ahasverus (1882). Both characters, doomed to eternal suffering, engage in a dialogue. Ahasuerus embodies the nihilistic "oriental" principle: He bows to the world of brute force and cruel arbitrariness, which leaves nothing to man but to accept fate impotently. Prometheus, on the other hand, represents the idealistic “western” principle: Out of humanity, he revolted against injustice and despotism, and fought for a better future, art and culture. The Messiah who appears at the end shows his sympathy for Prometheus.
  • Fritz Mauthner (1849–1923): The new Ahasver. Novel from Jung-Berlin (1882)
  • August Vermeylen : Der Ewige Jude (Roman, Flemish 1906, German 1923 with 12 woodcuts by Frans Masereel)
  • Anna von Krane : The victory festival of the sixth legion (Novelle, Cologne 1915). After the destruction of Jerusalem, Ahasver migrates to Roman Germania.
  • Ludwig Diehl : Ahasver (1924)
  • Franz Werfel : Star of the Unborn (ended 1946–1945, published after Werfel's death)
  • Leo Perutz : The Marques de Bolibar (1920). An important figure in the novel - Salignac, a Napoleonic officer who attracts misfortunes but never dies in the process - is believed by many characters in the novel, and ultimately also by the first-person narrator, to be the Eternal Jew.
  • Jorge Luis Borges : The Immortal , 1949
  • Walter M. Miller, Jr .: Lobgesang auf Leibowitz , 1971 ( A Canticle for Leibowitz , 1960). The Jew, sometimes called Benjamin, is the unifying figure of the novel plot, which covers almost two millennia.
  • Gabriel García Márquez : One day after Saturday , 1955; Great Mama’s funeral , 1962; A Hundred Years of Solitude , 1967
  • Walter Jens : Ahasver . Hamburg 1956
  • Pär Lagerkvist : The Sibyl , 1956; The death of Ahasver , 1960
  • Romain Gary : The Dance of Genghis Cohn, 1967, German 1970. The comic novel links the motif of the undead dibbuk with a wandering Jew who lives forever in one of his Nazi murderers.
  • Friedrich Dürrenmatt : The suspicion : In it, Dürrenmatt identifies the concentration camp survivor Gulliver, who hunts down Nazis in hiding, with the Eternal Jew.
  • Stefan Heym : Ahasver . Novel. (1981). Heym's main work tells the story of Ahasver on three interrelated levels: as an angel in dialogue with Jesus Christ about the right path to the redemption of the world, where he represents the earthly social revolution, as a shoemaker in Jesus' time and as a figure who takes on various forms finally the displeasure of Paul von Eitzen , who, at least in the legendary tradition of the folk book , was a witness of the appearance of Ahasver and thus functions as a certification authority, which is ironically broken in Heyms' novel. There is also an ironic correspondence between the gene. Prof. Dr. Dr. Siegfried Beifuß, head of the fictional GDR Institute for Scientific Atheism , Behrensstrasse 39a, 108 Berlin, and an apologist for the existence of Ahasver, Prof. Jochanaan Leuchtentrager (Lucifer) from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, on the possibility of the existence of the Eternal Jews.
  • Arkadi and Boris Strugazki : The Burden of Evil . Roman (1988). Soviet Union, 21st century: Demiurge and his loyal assistant, the insurance salesman Ahasver Lukitsch, appear in Tashlinsk.
  • Carlo Fruttero, Franco Lucentini : L'amante senza fissa dimora (1986, German: The lover without a permanent residence , 1988). In Venice, an antique dealer meets the guide David Ashaver Silvera . Both solve a case of art smuggling and have a short but intense love affair.
  • Wilfried A. Resch : Rhoems last worlds (2000). The Eternal Jew, along with figures other than Alfred Tawinsky, and his invisible band ("The Invisible Background Noise Band") move through a Europe separated by a wall from the devastated south and tell in different stages of his first century.
  • Wolfgang Hohlbein's Raven No. 9 In the Tower of the Living Dead
  • Oliver Buslau : The fifth passion Munich (2009), Verlag Goldmann
  • Alexander Lomm : Der Skaphander Ahasvers ( short story), published in The Reconstruction of Man , Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin, 1980
  • Isajon Sulton : The Eternal Jew ( Boqiy Darbadar ), Tashkent, 2011.
  • Michael Ende : Eine long Reise Ziel (story), published in The Prison of Freedom , Weitbrecht, 1992. On his search for the motif of a surrealist painting, Lord Cyril Abercomby meets the Wandering Jew, who sends him to a still unexplored piece of earth.

Lyric works

  • Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart : The Eternal Jew. A lyric rhapsody . (1783 or 1787)
  • August Wilhelm Schlegel : The warning
  • Aloys Schreiber (1761–1841): The Eternal Jew (poem)
  • Eduard von Schenk (1788–1841)
  • Gustav Pfizer
  • Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Müller (1794–1827): The Eternal Jew
  • Nikolaus Lenau : Ahasver, the eternal Jew : poem 1827–1831; The Eternal Jew : Poem 1836
  • Julius Mosen : Ahasver (1838). In this epic poem, the Eternal Jew stands in stark contrast to Christianity.
  • Ludwig Köhler : The new Ahasver (1841). Here is this prophet of freedom and social revolution.
  • János Arany (1817–1882): Az örök zsidó (German: 'The Eternal Jew'). Lyrical monologue (1860), an expression of the existential loneliness and unsavedness of modern man
  • Robert Hamerling : Ahasuerus in Rome (1866). Epic poem identifying Emperor Nero with Ahasver
  • Seligmann Heller : Ahasuerus (1866)
  • József Kiss (1843–1921): Új Ahasvér (1875, German: 'The New Ahasver') painful lyrical reaction to anti-Semitic statements in Hungary, eight years after the emancipation of the Jews
  • Carmen Sylva : Jehovah (Leipzig 1882)
  • Max Haushofer Jr .: The Eternal Jew. A dramatic poem. (1886)
  • Marie Luise Kaschnitz : Ahasver (1957) poem, in: Neue Gedichte, Hamburg 1957. In this poem, Ahasver tries to commit suicide in a hotel room, but is prevented from doing so.
  • Oswald Levett: Lost in time . Verlag Das neue Berlin, Berlin 1985.
  • Christian von Aster : A Stranger in the City of the Dead (2009). In an attempt to brew a poison that will finally kill him, the Eternal Jew brings the plague across the country.

Dramatic works

Fairy tales, folk books and collections of legends

  • Anonymous: The eternal Jew, the shield citizen of utopias and many other legends, Mährlein [etc.] (=  The Leitmeritz family friend , first part), Prague, Leitmeritz and Teplitz 1837: Ahasver was here as the executioner during the persecution of Christians in Roman times Christians offered: “And many innocent victims were strangled from his hands with double agony.” Later he was an ally of Muhammad and took part in the Muslim reconquest of Jerusalem; in attempting to light the temple, Christ encounters and converts him. He becomes a friar, a crusader and an energetic defender of the true faith.
  • Karl Joseph Simrock : The Eternal Jew. In: Journal for German Mythology and Morals , edited by Johann Walter Wolf, Volume 1, Göttingen 1853.
  • Ludwig Bechstein : The cursed city . In: New German Fairy Tale Book , Leipzig 1856.
  • Johann Georg Theodor Grasse : The Tannhauser and Eternal Jew , Dresden 1861.
  • Friedrich Helbig : The legend of the eternal Jew, its poetic change etc. , Berlin 1874.
  • Moncure Daniel Conway (1832–1907): The Wandering Jew , London 1881.
  • Leonhard Neubaur (1847–1917): The legend of the eternal Jew , Leipzig 1884.
  • Paulus Stephanus Cassel : The book of Esther. A contribution to the history of the Orient, translated from the original Hebrew text, explained historically and theologically , Berlin and Leipzig 1885.
  • Ludwig Aurbacher : A Volksbüchlein. Contains: The story of the eternal Jew, the adventures of the seven Swabians, along with many other edifying and delightful histories. Second, increased and improved edition for Volksfreunde , Munich 1835; Munich Volksschrift No. 29. History of the Eternal Jew / History of Doctor Faustus; Legend of the knight St. George. Kevelaer , new edition, around 1905/1910.
  • Franz Pehr: The Eternal Jew in Sagen from Carinthia , 1913.


  • Le Juif errant (1812) is a melodrama by Louis-Charles Caigniez with music by Louis Alexandre Piccinni .
  • Carl Loewe , Der Ewige Jude (1834), legend by Alois Schreiber, op.36,3
  • Richard Wagner used the motif of the Eternal Jew several times: In the form of the sailor who restlessly crosses the seas in his opera The Flying Dutchman (1843) Wagner expresses this myth most clearly, as he explains in A Message to My Friends from 1851, “a strange one Mixture of the character of the Eternal Jew with that of Odysseus ”, a mixture of medieval Christian longing for death and Hellenic“ longing for home, house, stove and wife. ”Dieter Borchmeyer (2002) believes that Wagner was in the form of the one who could not die , eternally homeless wanderer saw a symbol of existence of himself and his artistry, whose “changes” also reflected his own impact history. At the same time, for Wagner, the Ahasver legend reflected the fate of the Judaism he hated: This indicates that Wagner actually had a denied closeness to some traditions of Jewish thought.
  • Fromental Halévy , Le Juif errant (1852), opera in five acts based on the novel by Eugène Sue
  • In Leoš Janáček's opera The Makropulos Case (1926), the character of Elina Makropulos (Emilia Marty) can be seen as the female Ahasver.
  • Peter Jona Korn composed his fourth Ahasver Symphony , op. 91, in 1989–90.
  • The Finnish doom metal group Reverend Bizarre thematized the figure of the eternal Jew in their title "The Wandering Jew" from the EP Harbringer Of Metal (2003).

Visual arts

  • Gustave Doré created a series of twelve wooden panels on the subject in 1856.
  • Samuel Hirszenberg presented the Eternal Jew from a Jewish perspective in 1899.
  • Sarnath Banerjee published an Indian graphic novel called "The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers" in 2007 , which was inspired by the legend of the Wandering Jew.


In the silent film The Golem, How He Came into the World (1920), Ahasuerus is laughed at by the emperor and his servants. Thereupon he lets the palace collapse. The golem saves those present.

Other films were Ahasver and Ahasver, the Eternal Jew .

The Swiss writer, journalist and Turkey expert Max Rudolf Kaufmann submitted a film script "Ahasver" in German to the US copyright office in 1934. It is not known whether and how it was realized.

In the film The Seventh Sign (1988) with Demi Moore and Jürgen Prochnow in the leading roles, Prochnow portrays the Messiah and Bringer of the Apocalypse . Cartaphilos recognizes the signs that herald the end and wants to prevent anything that interrupts this sequence - because if it does Jesus enters his worldly kingdom, he (Cartaphilos) can finally die.

The content of the mystery thriller The Gathering (2002) also ties in with the myth of Ahasver. The Ahasver appears here as the prototype of the gawker.

Related legends

A similar figure found widespread use in countries shaped by Islam . In the Koran , Sameri , the Samaritan , is cursed by Moses to wander eternally because he helped the Israelites make the golden calf . The Islamic tradition also knows the mystical prophet al-Chidr , who is also said to wander immortally - but not restlessly - through the world.


  • Otto Heller : Ahasver in art poetry. In: Modern Philology. Vol. 3, No. 1, 1905, ISSN  0026-8232 , pp. 61-68, JSTOR 432610 .
  • Werner Zirus: Ahasverus, the eternal Jew (= history of material and motifs in German literature. 6, ZDB -ID 533024-5 ). de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1930.
  • Siegfried Behn : The Eternal Jew. A legend. Thomas, Kempen 1947.
  • Hellmut Andics : The Eternal Jew. Causes and History of Anti-Semitism. Molden, Vienna 1965.
  • Galit Hasan-Rokem, Alan Dundes (Eds.): Wandering Jew. Essays in the Interpretation of a Christian Legend. Indiana University Press, Bloomington IN 1986, ISBN 0-253-36340-3 .
  • Leander Petzoldt : The eternal loser. The image of the Jew in popular literature. In: Leander Petzoldt: Märchen, Mythos, Sage. Contributions to literature and folk poetry. Elwert, Marburg 1989, ISBN 3-7708-0893-2 , pp. 35-65.
  • George K. Anderson: The Legend of the Wandering Jew. 3rd printing. University Press of New England, Hanover NH et al. 1991, ISBN 0-87451-547-5 .
  • Stefan Rohrbacher , Michael Schmidt: Images of Jews. Cultural history of anti-Jewish myths and anti-Semitic prejudices (= Rowohlt's Encyclopedia. 498, Cultures and Ideas ). Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-499-55498-4 , pp. 246-252.
  • Manfred Frank : The endless journey. The story of the Flying Dutchman and related motifs (= Reclam library. 1537). Reclam, Leipzig 1995, ISBN 3-379-01537-7 .
  • Mona Körte, Robert Stockhammer (Ed.): Ahasvers track. Seals and documents from the “Eternal Jew” (= Reclams Universal Library . 1538). Reclam, Leipzig 1995, ISBN 3-379-01538-5 .
  • Michael Tilly : The "Eternal Jew" in England. The medieval Cartaphilus legend in its historical context. In: Journal of Religious and Intellectual History . Vol. 47, No. 4, 1995, pp. 289-303, JSTOR 23899342 .
  • Avram Andrei Baleanu: Fifth image: The Eternal Jew. In: Julius H. Schoeps , Joachim Schlör (eds.): Images of hostility towards Jews. Anti-Semitism - Prejudices and Myths. License issue. Bechtermünz, Augsburg 1999, ISBN 3-8289-0734-2 , pp. 96-102.
  • Mona Körte: The impossibility of catching the pursued. The Eternal Jew in the literary fantasy (= series of publications by the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism. 6). Campus, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2000, ISBN 3-593-36452-2 (also: Berlin, Technical University, dissertation, 1998).
  • Alfred Bodenheimer : Wandering Shadows. Ahasver, Moses and the authenticity of Jewish modernity. Wallstein, Göttingen 2002, ISBN 3-89244-509-5 .
  • Dieter Borchmeyer : Richard Wagner. Ahasver's changes. Insel, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2002, ISBN 3-458-17135-5 .
  • Tobias Lagatz: The "Eternal Jew" of the 19th century in the focus of the Roman Inquisition and the Index Congregation. Caricature of himself and reflection of time. In: Florian Schuller , Giuseppe Veltri , Hubert Wolf (eds.): Catholicism and Judaism. Similarities and faults from the 16th to the 20th century. Pustet, Regensburg 2005, ISBN 3-7917-1955-6 , pp. 209-221.
  • Jürgen Beyer: Jürgen and the Eternal Jew. A living saint becomes immortal. In: Arv. Nordic Yearbook of Folklore. Vol. 64, 2008, ISSN  0066-8176 , pp. 125-140.
  • Frank Halbach: Ahasver's redemption. The myth of the Eternal Jew in the opera libretto of the 19th century (= theater studies. 14). Herbert Utz, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-8316-0834-8 (also: Munich, University, dissertation, 2005).
  • Galit Hasan-Rokem : Ahasver. In: Dan Diner (ed.): Encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture. Volume 1: A - Cl. Metzler, Stuttgart et al. 2011, ISBN 978-3-476-02501-2 , pp. 9-13.
  • Ingrid Maier, Jürgen Beyer, Stepan Šamin: The legend of the Eternal Jew in a Russian translation from 1663. In: Slovo. Vol. 54, 2013, ZDB -ID 228575-7 , pp. 49-73 .


  1. “Go on quicker, Jesus! Go on quicker! Why dost Thou loiter? " Jesus replied, “with a stern countenance,”: “I shall stand and rest, but thou shalt go on till the last day.” - ibid
  2. "It has been my fate to add a new dimension to the legend of the Wandering Jew: that of the immanent Jew, omnipresent, entirely assimilated, forever part of each atom of the German earth, air, and conscience. All I need is a pair of wings & a little pink ass to become a beautiful Jewish angel. You are probably familiar with the new twist given to our old saying in all the bierstuben around Buchenwald , when a sudden silence falls in the conversation: A Jew is passing by ... ", engl. Gary's version, slightly different from the first French version

Single receipts

  1. a b Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy . Book 3, Letter I, 1644 ( ).
  2. ^ A table of the letters and matters The Turkish Spy , Vol. 3, London 1770, A. Wilde
  3. Marcello Massenzio: Le Juif errant entre mythe et histoire. Trois variations sur le thème de la Passion selon le Juif errant , Annuaire de l'École pratique des hautes études (EPHE), Section des sciences religieuses, 115
  4. ^ Roger of Wendover's Flowers of History , Bohn, London, 1849.
  5. ^ Matthew (of Westminster), Robert de Reading: Flores Historiarum, Volume 2 , HM Stationery Office, 1890.
  6. Chamber's Book of Days: The wandering Jew (English)
  7. Wolfgang Pöhlmann: Ahasver, the wandering Jew. A European legend in which: 6.2 Malchus . In: Katarzyna Stokłosa, Andrea Strübind (ed.): Faith - Freedom - Dictatorship in Europe and the USA. Festschrift for Gerhard Besier for his 60th birthday . Göttingen 2007, p. 344f.
  8. MD Magee: The Legend of the Wandering Jew (English)
  9. David Daube: Ahasver. In: The Jewish Quarterly Review New Series 45 .3 (January 1955), pp 243-244.
  10. Alex Bein : Die Judenfrage Volume 1: Notes, Excursions, Register , Deutsche Verlagsanstalt 1980, p. 77.
  11. Alex Bein: Die Judenfrage Volume 1: Notes, Excursions, Register , Deutsche Verlagsanstalt 1980, p. 4.
  12. Alex Bein: Die Judenfrage Volume 1: Notes, Excursions, Register , Deutsche Verlagsanstalt 1980, pp. 77f.
  13. Quoted from Cornelia Schmitz-Berning: Vokabular des Nationalozialismus . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-092864-8 , p. 462 f. (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  14. ^ Carlo Fruttero, Franco Lucentini: The lover without a permanent residence. Novel, 1st edition 1990, Piper-Verlag, ISBN 3-492-21173-9 ( review ).
  15. ^ Franz Pehr: The eternal Jew in sagas from Carinthia , digitized
  16. Max Rudolf Kaufmann: Ahasver -eine Filmdichtung, New York 1934 (entry in the US-American copyright directory, Library of Congress) Link .

Web links

Wikisource: Eternal Jew  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Eternal Jew  - Collection of images, videos and audio files