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Mystical ResistanceUncovering the Zohar's Conversations with Christianity$
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Ellen D. Haskell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600433

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600433.001.0001

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Contesting the Kingdom of Heaven

Contesting the Kingdom of Heaven

Rachel as Counterpart to Christ

(p.15) 1 Contesting the Kingdom of Heaven
Mystical Resistance

Ellen D. Haskell

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates how the Zohar’s reinvention of the matriarch Rachel engages topics from medieval Jewish-Christian disputations. It introduces a Zoharic interpretation of Rachel’s death that invokes Christ’s Passion to refute Christian claims of Jesus’ divine and messianic status, reclaim authority for the twelve tribes of Israel from the twelve apostles, reassert Jewish law’s continuing validity, and redefine Christianity’s Kingdom of Heaven as a signifier of Jewish identity. Each Zoharic argument hinges on the “Kingdom of Heaven,” a term important to both Jews and Christians since antiquity. The chapter also discusses how correlating the feminine Rachel with the masculine Christ complicates modern assumptions regarding gendered symbols. Modern scholars have sought symbolic correspondence between figures of the same gender (i.e., the Jewish Shekhinah and the Christian Virgin Mary), but medievals privileged typological likeness instead.

Keywords:   Kabbalah, Zohar, medieval, Rachel, Jewish-Christian relations, disputations, Shekhinah, Kingdom of Heaven, gender

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