Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Title Page, Copyright Page
I am pleased that this book of readings from Walter Wink’s work is being
published, for both personal and more than personal reasons. He was a close
friend, beginning almost thirty years ago when we met at a professional
meeting of Jesus scholars. Because of our friendship, I will refer to him as Walter
in the rest of this foreword.
The more than personal reason is that he was one...
Walter Wink died on May 10, 2012, at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of progressive Christian thought and practice that powerfully integrated social justice concerns and biblical scholarship. Throughout his long and productive career, Wink wore many hats, all of them well—a biblical scholar who made significant contributions to the discipline and brought interdisciplinary skills to...
Bibliography of Works Cited
An Autobiographical Essay: “Write What You See”
My first vivid encounter with Jesus took place in the fourth grade, when I was expelled from Sunday school for rowdiness. My parents punished me by making me skip Sunday dinner and stay in my room. For my comfort, my mother handed me the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament, which had just been published. I began at the beginning, with the “begats,” which...
Part I. The Bible in Human Transformation
1. The Bankruptcy of Biblical Paradigm
Historical biblical criticism is bankrupt.
I use “bankrupt” in the exact sense of the term. A business which goes bankrupt is not valueless, nor incapable of producing useful products. It still has an inventory of expensive parts, a large capital outlay, a team of trained personnel, a certain reputation, and usually, until the day bankruptcy is declared, a façade which appeared to most to be relatively healthy. The one...
2. Toward a New Paradigm for Bible Study
By way of one such attempt at a new paradigm for biblical studies, I propose
a dialectical hermeneutic whose dynamic moments might be schematically
outlined as follows:
N1 Negation of fusion through suspicion of the object
N2 Negation of the negation through suspicion of the subject...
Part II. Naming the Powers
The reader of this work will search in vain for a definition of power. It is one of those words that everyone understands perfectly well until asked to define it. Sociologists and political scientists generally complain that no one (prior to their writing) has ever provided an adequate definition, but the definitions they offer are in turn rejected by others. This is all quibbling. The dictionary definitions...
4. Interpreting the Myth
We ended Part Two having found ourselves in a cul de sac of interpretation. Ephesians 3:10 spoke of the church’s task as proclaiming the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. We were unable to find anything in the first-century background capable of making that intelligible within the limits of the modern worldview. But perhaps that point...
Part III. Unmasking the Powers
One of the best ways to discern the weakness of a social system is to discover what it excludes from conversation. From its inception Christianity has not found it easy to speak about sex. Worse yet, it could not acknowledge, even privately, the continued existence of inner darkness in the redeemed. Because Gnosticism attempted, often in bizarre forms, to face sex and the inner shadow...
Nothing commends Satan to the modern mind. It is bad enough that Satan is spirit, when our worldview has banned spirit from discourse and belief. But worse, he is evil, and our culture resolutely refuses to believe in the real existence of evil, preferring to regard it as a kind of systems breakdown that can be fixed with enough tinkering. Worse yet, Satan is not a very good intellectual...
7. The Gods
The angels of the nations, as we saw in the previous chapter, are only a special category of heavenly powers elsewhere called gods, angels, or spirits. The language of the Powers in the New Testament period is so imprecise that it is often impossible to maintain distinctions between these spiritual entities. Generally speaking, what pagans called gods, Jews and Christians called angels...
Part IV. Engaging the Powers
One of the most pressing questions facing the world today is, How can we
oppose evil without creating new evils and being made evil ourselves?
It is my conviction that any attempt to face the problem of evil in society from a New Testament perspective must be bound up with an understanding of what the Bible calls the “Principalities and Powers.” I am also convinced that no social ethic...
9. The Myth of the Domination System
Violence is the ethos of our times. It is the spirituality of the modern world. It has been accorded the status of a religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience to death. Its followers are not aware, however, that the devotion they pay to violence is a form of religious piety. Violence is so successful as a myth precisely because it does not seem to be mythic in the...
10. The Nature of the Domination System
The good news is that God not only liberates us from the Powers, but liberates the Powers as well. The gospel is not a dualistic myth of good and evil forces vying for ascendancy, as in the myth of redemptive violence. It is a sublimely subtle drama about the intertwining of good and evil in all of historical reality. The Powers are not simply evil. They are a bulwark against...
11. Jesus’ Third Way: Nonviolent Engagement
Human evolution has provided the species with two deeply instinctual responses to violence: flight or fight. Jesus offers a third way: nonviolent direct action.2 The classic text is Matt. 5:38-42:
38 You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 39But I say to you, do not resist and evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone...
12. The Acid Test: Loving Enemies
In the spiritual renaissance that I believe is coming to birth, it will not be the message of Paul that this time galvanizes hearts, as in the Reformation and the Wesleyan revival, but the human figure of Jesus. And in the teaching of Jesus, the sayings on nonviolence and love of enemies will hold a central place. Not because they are more true than any others, but because they are the only means...
Part V. The Human Being
I am puzzled that a species that has subjected virtually the entire universe to its analytical gaze and that has penetrated to the tiniest constituents of matter still knows next to nothing about how to become human. I am greatly agitated that our society seems to be losing the battle for humanization. Violence, domination, killing, disrespect, terror, environmental degradation, and want...
14. The Human Being in the Quest for the Historical Jesus
What stands in the way of new/ancient readings of Scripture is the heritage of positivism and objectivism—the belief that we can handle these radioactive texts without ourselves being irradiated. Biblical scholars have been exceedingly slow to grasp the implications of the Heisenberg principle: that the observer is always a part of the field being observed, and disturbs that field by the very act...
15. Jesus and the Human Being
A number of scholars early in the twentieth century were convinced that the biblical “son of man” was an offshoot of Iranian mythology about an “Ur-mensch,” or Primal Man.1 Subsequent research has exposed the synthetic nature of this “myth,” which never existed in the form proposed. Despite the absence of such a hypothetical myth in pre-Christian sources, however, there is something...
16. The Human Being
Our spiraling itinerary brings us back to Nicolas Berdyaev, one of the true prophets of the twentieth century and the herald of the anthropological revelation. He believed that the future coming of the Human Being “with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26) will reveal humanity’s christological nature. “The Coming Christ will come only to a humanity which courageously...
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013
OCLC Number: 868834562
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Walter Wink