Walter Wink

The phenomenon of violence flows from a belief in its power to save us: the myth of redemptive violence.

Nonviolence for the violent – Lecture by Dr. Wink

Walter Wink (1935 – 2012)

Walter Wink (May 21, 1935 – May 10, 2012) was an American Biblical scholar, theologian, and activist who was an important figure in Progressive Christianity. Wink spent much of his career teaching at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City.

He was well known for his advocacy of and work related to nonviolent resistance and his seminal works on “The Powers“, 
Naming the Powers (1984), 
Unmasking the Powers (1986), 
Engaging the Powers (1992), 
When the Powers Fall (1998), and 
The Powers that Be (1999),
all of them commentaries on the Apostle Paul’s ethic of spiritual warfare described here:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

— Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

Breaking with Christian hermeneutic tradition of Christian demonology, he interprets Paul’s hierarchy of “rulers” to refer to imperial powers, with corresponding and political theologies and ideologies of state violence.

Giving examples from ancient Babylon through the popular media of today, these are supported by, in a phrase he coined “the myth of redemptive violence“.

How Walter Wink confronted violence
Obituary for Walter Wink

Partial bibliography

John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1968. (out of print)
The Bible in Human Transformation, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973. (out of print)
The Powers Trilogy:
Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984. ISBN 0-8006-1786-X
Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986. ISBN 0-8006-1902-1
Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8006-2646-X
Violence and Nonviolence in South Africa, Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1987. (out of print)
Transforming Bible Study, second edition, Nashville: Abingdon, 1990. (out of print)
Proclamation 5: Holy Week, Year B, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993. (out of print)
Cracking the Gnostic Code: The Powers in Gnosticism, (Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series), Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993. ISBN 1-55540-860-5
When the Powers Fall: Reconciliation in the Healing of Nations, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8006-3127-7; Swedish edition: Healing a Nation’s Wounds: Reconciliation on the Road to Democracy (Uppsala, Sweden: Life and Peace Institute, 1997)
The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium, New York: Doubleday, 1999. ISBN 0-385-48752-5
Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches (editor), Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8006-3186-2
Peace Is The Way: Writings on Nonviolence from the Fellowship of Reconciliation., (editor), Orbis Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57075-315-6
John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001. ISBN 1-57910-529-7
The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man, Fortress Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8006-3262-1
Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way, Augsburg Fortress, 2003. ISBN 0-8006-3609-0
Just Jesus: My Struggle to Become Human, Image, 2014. ISBN 978-0307955814
The System Belongs to God DVD, UMCom Productions,