Reviews - What do customers think about The Immovable Race: Gnostic Designation and the Theme of Stability in Late Antiquity (Nag Hammadi Studies , No 29)?
The Immovable Race Sep 18, 2007
In one of my favorite volumes of the Nag Hammadi Studies, Williams analyzes the use of the immovable race designation in five gnostic texts (The Three Steles of Seth, Zostrianos, The Apocryphon of John, The Gospel of the Egyptians and The Sophia of Jesus Christ). The author surveys relevant literature in Late Antiquity thematically centered on the ideal of stability in an effort to more clearly define what was intended by the Gnostics in their self-identification with an immovable race. Williams is convincing in his thesis that the usage and origins of the immovable race designation went beyond the boundaries of a single sectarian tradition, and while that particular phrase was not commonplace, it was a phrase used to articulate aspirations which were shared far more broadly than the confines of some peculiar sect.
By the end of the study, I had a clearer understanding of the historical significance of a sparsely attested gnostic designation within the wider flow of late antique spirituality. When members of a religious movement call themselves something, we ought to pay at least as much attention to that designation as we do to things other people call them or to the devising of our own designations and categories, for frequently such self-designations condense in compact form the most important dimensions of a religious community's self-understanding.
See also: Rethinking "Gnosticism": An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category.