Wink presents the original contextual meaning of Jesus as also a timeless meaning. He tries to draw from the bible a clear and simple message—one that contains everything necessary for contemporary Christians to take a stand for nonviolence.
I am sympathetic to what I perceive as Wink’s larger goal in this interpretation. He wants to remove the option of reading Jesus’s words as endorsing toleration of abuse. He is rightly aware of and duly burdened by too many examples in the history of Christendom in which the powerful have used a command like “do not resist evildoers” as a rationale for submission to injustice.
Wink’s approach throughout the Powers trilogy is fundamentally a reappropriation of the Biblical texts in light of contemporary concerns. Far from being a “really bad” reading of scripture, it is an excellent example of constructive Biblical theology… The answer he proposes is a wholesale reevaluation of both the Biblical conception of the Powers and Principalities, as well as their relevance to the modern world.
Rather than read it prescriptively to justify my own identification as a “righteous Christian,” I now read this passage for what it is: a poem that describes the resilience of a people who found true comfort and safety in God, despite attacks from those who would cause them harm.