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Christ the Original Mystery

Christ the Original Mystery

Esoterism and the Mystical Way

By Jean Borella

522 pp

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About the Book

René Guénon’s explication of the principles of an interior understanding of sacred forms has established his reputation in the West as the master theorist of esoterism. But until now his doctrine has not been the focus of thorough study in Christian circles. Christ the Original Mystery (a republication of the work issued in 2004 as Guénonian Esoterism and Christian Mystery) is the first major work to combine an analysis of Guénon’s ideas about esoterism with a critical examination of their application to Christianity. Here Guénon’s remarkable insights into the problems of the modern world, symbolism, and metaphysics are masterfully situated by Jean Borella within the horizons of the Christian Mystery, the sacraments, and the mystical way.


“In this brilliant study of Christian esoterism and mysticism, Jean Borella accomplishes several urgent goals: he establishes a nuanced definition of esoterism that respects the fundamental priority of divine revelation; he demonstrates the myriad ways in which René Guénon, father of modern esoterism, misread the Christian mysteries by ignoring the testimony of scripture and the early Church Fathers; and he points the way towards a life-giving exploration of the Christian inner life based on the orthodox teaching of deification. This last achievement may be the book’s highlight, as Borella introduces his readers to a number of little-known or forgotten texts of the highest order, including the anonymous The Evangelical Pearl, Benedict of Canfield’s The Rule of Perfection, and Louis Laneau’s On the Deification of the Just—works of profound Christian spirituality.”


Research Associate, Department of Religion, Smith College; co-author of Prayer: A History

“René Guénon was one of the great metaphysical minds of the last few centuries. Jean Borella shows in this landmark study exactly where Guénon’s work remains of perennial value for Christians, but also demonstrates the limitations and personal idiosyncrasies that led him to distort some of the most important elements of Catholic and Orthodox doctrine. This book may well stimulate the recovery of authentic metaphysics within the Church for which Guénon longed, but which he despaired of seeing in his lifetime.”


author of The Radiance of Being: Dimensions of Cosmic Christianity

“Exhaustively documented and brilliantly conceived, this monumental treatise refutes a Guénonian thesis regarding the limits of Christianity and reaffirms the Patristic doctrine of theosis as the consummation of the Christian Way.”


author of Christian Gnosis from St. Paul to Meister Eckhart

About the Author

William Daniel (Ph.D., University of Nottingham) is rector of St. Michael’s Church, Dean for Liturgy and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, and adjunct professor of humanities at SUNY Geneseo, in Geneseo, New York. He is the author of Inhabited by Grace (Church Publishing, Inc.), various works of poetry and social commentary, and is a roaster of coffee. You can follow Fr. Daniel at

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