Do you want to delve deep into the crazy esoterica of Solomonic magic? Did your new neighbors invite you to Passover dinner and now you need to know what Passover is? Do you need to assess how a golem might fare in a fight with a zombie? If yes to any of these questions, this book has something for you.
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis’s book on the massive amounts of lore of Judaism possesses covers more topics than the average lay reader might ever imagine. Along with an explanation of how Qabala differs from Kaballah and why, Dennis reveals a great deal of folklore unknown to most, tales of angels even an apocryphal bible would never see, and takes great pains to cross-reference these wherever possible. He goes so far as to include pieces of the Gnostic tradition – material sometimes left out of Abrahamic scholarship.
Admittedly reading this book cover to cover for the sake of review is a dry experience. However, in short bursts – climbing through a page or a series of cross references – feels like an adventure, unearthing ancient stories, forgotten characters, heroes of ages past. From prophets to kings, to stories of Esther that extends her character quite a bit from the more well-known submissive King James Bible version, to finding out Jezebel was “one of four women that ruled the world,” each entry is a concise and often fascinating guide to the Jewish folklore and occultism. If for some reason you are only willing to read one passage from this book, read the section on Jesus. It explains the Jewish viewpoint of Jesus as a magician, and gives a reasonable explanation of how Jewish scholars view Jesus’ role in their faith.
This is a book for those well past how to and far into do-it-yourself. It is comprehensive in what it covers, and well worth a look.
~ review by Diana Rajchel
Author: Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis
Llewellyn Publications, 2015
pp. 504, $34.99