Walter Wink: A Tribute
By mreyf
May 11, 2012

Auburn Seminary mourns the passing of Walter Wink, a groundbreaking figure in the field of New Testament theology, died on May 10, 2012, in Sandisfield, Massachusetts at the age of 76. Wink’s decades of biblical scholarship and prophetic witness were foundational to Auburn Seminary's mission to equip bold and resilient religious leaders who can bridge religious divides, pursue justice, and heal the world.

A memorial service to celebrate Walter Wink's life will be held on:
Saturday, June 16, 2012
12:00 p.m.
James Chapel, Union Seminary
3041 Broadway New York, NY 10027.

A reception in the Seminary's refectory will follow the service.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers,
donations be made to the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Wink’s seminal work focused on the biblical “principalities and powers,” the psycho-socio-political structures governing society throughout history, and the Christian response to such powers. He is considered a major contributor to progressive Christian thinking on current political and cultural issues. Wink wrote about non-violence, lectured on the topic around the world, and coined the phrase "the myth of redemptive violence," addressing the underlying justification for the use of violence throughout our culture. He was active with nonviolence training throughout the world, including apartheid-era South Africa. He also wrote and spoke on topics such as homosexuality and the Bible, psychology and biblical studies, and Jesus as a historical figure. His teaching focused on his pioneering method of Bible study incorporating Jungian interpretation, meditation, artwork, and movement. This method and its rationale were first presented in his controversial book, The Bible in Human Transformation (1973), which has since found wide acceptance. Most of Wink’s workshops were presented jointly with his wife, June Keener-Wink, who specializes in creative movement.

He was Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City from 1976 until he retired as Professor Emeritus in 2005. Wink was the author of over a dozen books, including the award-winning Naming the Powers (1982), Unmasking the Powers (1986), Engaging the Powers (1992), When the Powers Fall (1998), and The Human Being (2002). He also received numerous awards for his work as a scholar and activist, including the Unitas Award from Union Theological Seminary, The United States Institute for Peace, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Born in Dallas, Texas in 1935, he graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1956 and was ordained a United Methodist minister in 1961. He served as Pastor of First United Methodist Church, in Hitchcock, Texas from 1962–67. He earned Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he taught until 1976. For many years he attended the South County Friends Meeting in Great Barrington.

He is survived by his wife June, brother Dick, sons Steve and Chris, daughter Rebecca, stepsons Kim and Kurt, and eight grandchildren.

(Note: This announcement was provided courtesy of the Wink family and their friends.)

Read a tribute to Walter Wink by the Fellowship of Reconciliation here. 

Reflections from Friends and Colleagues

“My life, faith, biblical insight and theological understanding have been immeasurably enriched by my experience of Walter as mentor, colleague and friend. He and June have embodied truth, justice, integrity of being and deep compassion. They have taught us the essence of genuine humanity.”
The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus of The Riverside Church and President of the Healing of the Nations Foundation

"Walter’s deep insight into Scripture, his firm commitment to social justice, and his profound (and comforting) understanding of the meaning of human life were tempered by an unusual lightness of being. Teaching with him was a real joy. Being his friend was a great gift."
Dr. Dwayne Huebner, Horace Bushnell Prof Emeritus Christian Nurture, The Divinity School, Yale University, and Professor Emeritus, Teachers College, Columbia University

"Walter, was not only an extraordinary scholar, teacher, and writer, but a wonderful colleague and friend. We worked together for sixteen years at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City where we had numerous occasions to exchange ideas, wrestle with issues of justice and peace, engage in biblical study, and have fun telling stories and laughing together."
Robert E. Reber, President Pro Tem, Bexley Hall Seminary, Columbus, OH

"Walter Wink had profound impact on the lives as well as the ideas of his students and colleagues, and I think that was because he pulled together, in the most creative ways, fields and functions that most people think are widely separate. His teaching incorporated deep insights from Jungian psychology and purposeful focus on social change. He was an award-winning academic and an effective activist. His partnership with June Keener-Wink was both a happy marriage and his most important professional relationship. It was his gift for integrating all these things that enabled him to make so important a difference, in the academy, in the church, and around the world."
Barbara G. Wheeler, Director, Center for the Study of Theological Education, Auburn Seminary

You are invited to share your tributes in honor of Walter Wink below.