Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem
Scholarship and rigor mark this magnum opus by the esteemed Gershom Scholem, who did work on Kabbalah back when such activity was in disrepute among Jewish scholars of his rank. It is here where Scholem, who was associated with Hebrew University in Jerusalem, made his name, and his publications, usually short articles, laid the groundwork for a respectable study of the field. Scholem’s KABBALAH is a major work, which opens with a large, encyclopedia-entry-length overview essay, in which he explains the Zohar, or Book of Splendor, and its influence, especially among Hasidic Jews. He follows with articles on various topics in Jewish mysticism, and then includes articles on key personalities, such as Sabbatei Sevi (on whom Scholem has written an entire book). While KABBALAH by Gershom Scholem it is not an easy read, it rewards those who venture forth.
Year first published: 1987