MYTHS OF ORIGIN ABOUT JEWS AND GYPSIES - THE SOURCE OF TODAY'S STEREOTYPES
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The myths of origins of Jews and Gypsies that draw on biblical sources articulate the place of these 'Others' in social reality. A common element in these mythical narratives about Jewish and Gypsy communities is the guilt these people have to bear. For sins committed by their ancestors, Jews and Gypsies have to suffer social isolation and perpetual homelessness. The image usually is shaped by the Passion of Christ, that in popular imagery constructs them as alien, impure, fearsome but fascinating at the same time. The explanation of the origins of Gypsies has its source in biblical stories where nomadic lifestyle, poverty and the practice of begging was pictured as redemption for Cain's or Ham's sins that excluded them from dominant society. Also accusing Jews of ritual murders and thirst for Christian blood in popular imagery has its sources in the Bible. The element of homelessness can be traced also in the case of Jews in the Jew the Wanderer legend. This myth in various versions tells of a man condemned to immortality for insulting Jesus Christ. Since centuries for sedentary populations the myths of origin using biblical reality offered an explanation of persecution and exclusion of both Jews and Gypsies.
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