The imaginary war between prester john and eldad the danite and its real implications

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After introducing Eldad the Danite and his literature, this article presents an "Entangled History" of the belief in a utopian land among medieval Jews and Christians. It does so by examining the relationship between the Eldad literature and the different versions of the letter of Prester John, first in Latin and then in the vernacular. These two tales of an imaginary land were popular among both Jews and Christians; the two societies shared the belief in the land of Prester John and his neighbors, the Ten Lost Tribes, and even exchanged information about these mythical lands. But Jews and Christians also used these stories against each other by retelling them with a bias to one side or the other. This literary interaction reflects the entanglement of these two societies, and its limitations, demonstrating how the two societies shared the same (imaginary) information and used it in similar ways-but to contrary ends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Apocalyptics
  • Eldad the danite
  • Entangled history
  • Geoffroi of paris
  • Gog and magog
  • Imaginaire
  • Jewish-christian relations
  • John of mandeville
  • Matthew paris
  • Mongols
  • Prester john
  • Sambation
  • Solomon ben eliezer
  • Ten lost tribes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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