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Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament (The Powers : Volume One) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   181
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.01" Width: 5.97" Height: 0.49"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 5, 1984
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  080061786X  
EAN  9780800617868  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Thoroughly examines the use for the terms of power in all the relevant New Testament and cognate literature. He hypothesizes that "principalities and powers" are neither demonic nor other-worldy spirits; rather they are the inter- dependent inner and outer poles of any given manifestation of power. It is only when a particular Power becomes idolatrous that the Power becomes demonic.

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More About Walter Wink

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! DR. WALTER WINK (1935-2012) was an influential American biblical scholar, theologian, and activist, and was an important figure in progressive Christianity. He was well known for his advocacy of, and work related to, nonviolent resistance. Wink earned his Ph.D. at The Union Theological Seminary where he taught for nine years, and in 2010 was honored with the Unitas Distinguished Alumni Award. He went on to spend much of his career teaching at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City. Wink wrote more than sixteen books as well as hundreds of scholarly articles, and is recognized for coining the phrase the myth of redemptive violence. With his wife, June Keener Wink, he held workshops around the world that combined religious-themed pottery, dancing, and Biblical interpretation. Wink died in 2012 from complications of dementia."

Walter Wink currently resides in Sandisfield, in the state of Massachusetts.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Christianity as pantheistic Marxism (... say that again ?)  Feb 16, 2007
Walter Wink is an author whose name I first came across in N. T. Wright's magnum opus on the New Testament, and whom I finally decided to read after I saw him quoted in a few of Stephen R. L Clark's books (two Protestant sources, that'll teach me.) The idea of a multi-volume work devoted to an understanding of the mysterious language of the powers in the New Testament sounded very appealing, and I decided to give the author a chance, however suspicious of him I might have been in the first place.

Much of the volume is a rather meticulous exegesis of the passages of the New Testament that refer to powers and principalities, and I did find some of it useful, because it uses a very exhaustive database which shows that Paul is far from being the only author to use such terms. Unfortunately, for the Catholic reader, the constant use of non-canonical sources (such as the Gospel of Thomas and other Gnostic works) makes it very difficult to get a clear picture of what the actually inspired sources say.

But Wink's exegesis is not what I found the most debatable about this book. What I find most worrying is that nobody seems to be bothered by the fact that Wink poses as a Christian exegete while actually expounding pure, undiluted Marxist doctrine. Indeed, his book looks like a test to determine how thin the sheep's clothings need be and still fool the sheep.

To put it simply, Wink interprets the scriptural (and non-scriptural) language of the powers as having two dimensions : it can be both concrete, referring to actual forces in this world (like governments and corporations), and abstract, referring to what he calls the spirituality of these powers, but seems to boil down to their ideology.

Nobody seems to have noticed that Wink is using here a variant of the Marxist concepts of superstructure and infrastructure, and though in some places he claims to have an enlightened, monistic understanding of those two dimensions (based on spurious new-physics notions, p107), he often betrays his true materialistic reductionism, as when he says (p134) that "the actual spiritual quality [is] exuded as it were from the value systems and power relations in the existing state." In other words, as in Marxism, reality is basically a clash of material forces, and spirituality so-called just an outgrowth of those forces.

Wink's Marxism is further demonstrated in his repeated attacks on capitalism as an economic system which holds people in subjection (p125) ; his attribution of the evils of Russian Communism to habits inherited from Tsarism (p117), while a "true humanism" lies at the based of Communistic ideology (p116) ; and more especially his description of his own current effort as an attempt to "synthesize the valid elements" of both "classical" Christianity and Marxism (though given the predominance of matter in his ontology, it is easy to see which element of the mixture will have the upper hand.)

That Wink is a pantheist he admits himself, though he does so under the cover of "process theism." Here is the full text of his confession : "If there is no spirit without its concretion ... then classical theism is wholly inadequate as a metaphysics, for God could not be conceived of as existing apart from God's concretion in the physical universe. God, on this view, would be something akin to the Soul of the universe, and conversely the universe could be spoken of as the body of God." (p124) That so-called "God", by the way, seems to be primarily interested in "maximizing the total situation" in which his creatures exist (p119), whatever that means.

And of course, if God Himself is thrown out of the system (Wink's pantheism being just a thinly veiled atheism), the soul cannot be expected to survive as an eternal, spiritual entity. Indeed, as he claims, "Today almost everyone (sic) agrees that ... the soul or self is the active awareness of the entire living body itself."

"Naming the Powers" appears to me to be just another attempt to dechristianize the Christians and turn them into full-fledged, this-wordly Marxists with just a smattering of Biblical (and pseudo-Biblical) references, as filtered though such deviants as Teilhard de Chardin or Elaine Pagels. I cannot see how reading it can do anyone much good, unless the reader is further left than Wink himself (which should be rare outside of North Korea, Cuba or France.)
This is a volume one  Aug 27, 2006
It lays the foundations for the series. This it does well. It could be observed that the book is overly technical, and if it were the whole enchilada that would be so. I makes you want to read the rest of the series, and that is what a volume one should do. For a digested version of this series "The Powers That Be" by this author is a great book. For an in depth treatment, the trilogy is excellent. I would suggest both.
Buy this book for the third section  Sep 9, 2004
When I started this book I was disappointed, but I wasn't when I finished. The first section is a series of word studies on Greek words associated with the powers. The second section consists of expositions of troublesome passages dealing with spiritual powers. I found these sections useful, but rather dry. The third section was a surprise, which caused me to think more highly of the book. Wink takes the language of power in the New Testament and casts it in contemporary language. Now power is not seen as something that is out there in the heavens. It is not something that is primarily refering to disembodied ghouls that ought to give Christians nightmares. Instead, it is found in the material reality of bodies interacting in complex systems that can influence and control others. Wink sees that the language of the New Testament is profoundly true, yet at the same time myth. It is myth that represents an all too real situation. The great value I have found in the book is that it gives us a way to speak about power that makes it more than simply the sum of our social systems, yet is not "spiritual" in a way that gives postmodern thinkers fits. Wink makes it clear that evil is real and even gives some ways to confront it in our world.
Meticulous scholarship and inspirational interpretation  Feb 25, 2002
This book lists the various words that are used for power in the New Testament and evokes their meaning in the wide variety of contexts in which they are used. It really makes the language of the New Testament come alive. Throughout the book, Wink's warmth and humanity shine through. Speaking of conflict, he says 'I resolved never to embark on a conflict which would not end in my sitting down to a meal with my adversary.' Inspirational - strongly recommended.
interesting and often insightful but...  Jul 15, 2001
Wink writes from a perspective that takes what would almost have to be considered a liberal approach to the gospel. Although there are defintely moments when his scholarship and spirit shines, it must be kept in mind that he is writing from a world view that sometimes implies that the disciples may have misunderstood Jesus's message. His view of the Powers as mere spirits of organizations and his denial of their independent conscious existence is not convincing. Liberal Christians who do not consider the Bible the literal word of God will have a much easier time dealing with this Carl Jung inspired rendition of Christianity than those with more fundamental leanings.

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