Marianne Williamson is not afraid to change course. In February, the bestselling author of 15 spiritual self-help books suspended and then resumed her 2024 campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

On May 7, HarperOne will release The Mystic Jesus: The Mind of Love (HarperOne), a book it signed Williamson to write in 2019 but has twice postponed due to her political aspirations.

The mystic Jesus, Williamson says, is not the historical character. “The historical character existed, of course, just as Buddha existed, but the spiritual meaning of these figures expands beyond their teachings or their actions in their physical life.” She adds that myriad challenges facing individuals and society as a whole have led to “an increased curiosity about all the great religious and spiritual stories and their psychological significance.”

Williamson, a “spiritual adviser” to Oprah Winfrey, writes and speaks about love, miracles, and angels, as well as psychology and psychiatry. Some of her views are controversial, such as her objection to the widespread use of antidepressants and her belief that the distinction between sadness and clinical depression is artificial.

HarperOne has published six of her books, including the 1992 blockbuster A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’. That book, says Gabri-
ella Page-Fort, executive editor at the HarperOne Group, “has continuously led the spiritual self-help category it helped create.”

Like A Return to Love, The Mystic Jesus, which will have a 100,000-copy initial print run, draws on A Course in Miracles, a spiritual self-study program that was published in 1976 without an author named on the cover but attributed to a “scribe,” Helen Schucman, who claimed to have received the text as dictation directly from Jesus.

That book’s universalism is what Williamson, who defines herself religiously as Jewish, draws on in depicting Jesus as a figure whose spiritual impact is greater than his historical life or the religion that was created in his name.

Matthew Remski, journalist, podcast host, and coauthor of the 2023 book Conspirituality: How New Age Conspiracy Theories Became a Health Threat, says he considers A Course in Miracles and Williamson’s amplification of the book a “sectarian gambit” marketed to “the white, middle-class market who want the positive vibes of spirituality but not the responsibilities of religious community.” He adds, “New Testament scholars spend lifetimes trying to understand who Jesus was—and they don’t look to a book channeled in the 1970s to do it.”

Despite facing criticism, Williamson has had a huge impact on the publishing industry—and on public discourse about religion and spirituality. A Return to Love became a #1 New York Times bestseller when she published it at age 40, selling a reported 1.5 million copies and attracting the attention of Winfrey, who frequently hosted Williamson on her television show and who often cites her favorite quote from the book: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful.”

Williamson’s belief in the power of love opened her 2020 presidential campaign to ridicule in a June 2019 Democratic primary debate, when she said then-president Donald Trump had “harnessed fear for political purposes.” She continued: “I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And sir, love will win.”

Calling the comment “cringeworthy,” “embarrassing,” and “not my finest moment as an orator,” Williamson is nevertheless holding onto the “love will win” message in her 2024 campaign.

“My articulation at the debate was silly,” she says. “The point is not silly. When you have corporate profits placed before the safety, health, and wellbeing of people and planet, love means taking a stand for the safety, health, and wellbeing of people and planet. That’s what justice means. And justice is a facet of love.”

This message, says Page-Fort, is needed and resonant for readers. “Marianne Williamson takes a fresh look at the mystic Jesus, who lived his life fully committed to loving all. And we can all benefit from an emphasis on loving one another and ourselves right now.”

Holly Lebowitz Rossi is a freelance writer and coauthor of The Yoga Effect: A Proven Program for Depression and Anxiety.

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Page-Fort is quoted as having said, "Marianne Williamson takes a fresh look at the historic Jesus." That has been changed to "Marianne Williamson takes a fresh look at the mystic Jesus."