She had asked him several times, she said, why he had chosen to credit his own teachings to another, and he had always answered that doctrines put into the mouth of the miracle-working Shimon bar Yochai would be a rich source of profit.
The story indicates that shortly after its appearance the work was believed by some to have been written by Moses de Leon.
Certain Jewish communities, however, such as the Dor Daim, Andalusian (Western Sefardic or Spanish and Portuguese Jews), and some Italian communities, never accepted it as authentic.
By the 15th century, its authority in the Spanish Jewish community was such that Joseph ibn Shem-Tov drew from it arguments in his attacks against Maimonides, and even representatives of non-mystical Jewish thought began to assert its sacredness and invoke its authority in the decision of some ritual questions.
The Zohar spread among the Jews with remarkable swiftness.
Scarcely fifty years had passed since its appearance in Spain before it was quoted by many Kabbalists, including the Italian mystical writer Menahem Recanati and by Todros Abulafia.
The Zohar contains discussions of the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, redemption, the relationship of Ego to Darkness and "true self" to "The Light of God", and the relationship between the "universal energy" and man.
The authenticity of the Zohar was accepted by such 16th century Jewish luminaries as R' Yosef Karo (d.1575), R' Moses Isserles (d.
1572), and R' Solomon Luria (d.1574), who wrote that Jewish law (Halacha) follows the Zohar, except where the Zohar is contradicted by the Babylonian Talmud.
Its scriptural exegesis can be considered an esoteric form of the Rabbinic literature known as Midrash, which elaborates on the Torah.
The Zohar is mostly written in what has been described as a cryptic, obscure style of Aramaic.