School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics

Helen Keith van Wyk

Helen Keith van Wyk

Associate Professor

Discipline Biblical Sciences, Biblical Studies


Contact Number 033-260-5572

Campus Pietermaritzburg Campus

Office Address Room 203B, New Arts Block

External Research Profile

Degree Held

  • D.Phil. (NMMU)

Research Interests

  • I am a Hebrew Bible scholar who lives and works in South Africa. My research interests include: Hebrew Bible, Old Testament Apocrypha, Jungian and other Psychological Hermeneutics, Feminist hermeneutics and ethics, Autobiographic Biblical Criticism, Academic Development, Binge-Eating Disorder and Hebrew Language. I have published extensively on the Book of Judith (Judith) using Jungian hermeneutics infused with and informed by feminist hermeneutics/feminist theory. These publications have dealt, inter alia, with: individuation patterns in Judith, interpreting Judith as a national dream at the time of its composition, differences between female and male individuation patterns, similarities and differences between Judith and various ancient goddesses such as Anath/Astarte and Demeter, Judith’s place of composition, and Judith’s genealogy. I have also published on the Psalms, Genesis 2, Ruth and Ignatian meditation. I have addressed national and international conferences on these topics, and organised “The International Conference: Body, Psyche and Space in OT Apocryphal Literature” with Prof. Pierre Jordaan of the NWU. The conference took place in July 2013, at the Potschefstroom Campus of the NWU. Two research projects have emerged from this conference and are due to be published internationally in 2015. I am also on the steering committee of the Psychology and Bible programme group of the Society for Biblical Literature (SBL).
Some of my publications may be accessed at 

Published Research


  • The Enemy is within: A Jungian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Book of Judith. Biblical Interpretation Series, Volume 67. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc. (2004). ISBN 978 0 391 04214 9

Academic Articles


  • ‘Genealogy, Retribution and Identity: Re-Interpreting the Cause of Suffering in the Book of Judith’, Old Testament Essays 27/3 (2014).
  • ‘Women, Jung and the Hebrew Bible: An evaluation of Jungian interpretations of Hebrew Bible texts by way of the Book of Ruth’, Biblical Interpretation (2015).

Published Articles

  • ‘The Subjective Experience of Using Ignatian Meditation by Male and Female South African University Students: An exploratory study’, Journal of Religion and Health 53/5 (2014), pp. 1456-1471. [= online version in 2013].
  • ‘The Significance of Food, Eating, Death and Burial in the Book of Tobit’, Journal for Semitics, 22/ (2013), pp. 553-578.
  • ‘Archetype and Transformation – An Autobiographical Response to The Enemy is within Focused through the Character of Achior’, Old Testament Essays, 26/3 (2013), pp. 642-662.
  • ‘The Subjective Experience of Using Ignatian Meditation by Male and Female South African University Students: An Exploratory Study’, Journal of Religion and Health (2013; co-authored with Graham Lindegger; published online first), DOI [=’n Verkennende ondersoek, below]
  • ‘’n Verkennende Ondersoek na die Ervaring van Suid-Afrikaanse Universiteitstudente as Lesers van Rut 2 aan die Hand van Ignatiaanse Meditasie’, Godsdiensweteskappe (2013; Co-authored with Graham Lindegger, UKZN),
  • What makes Men and Women Identify with Judith? A Jungian Mythological Perspective on the Feminist Value of Judith Today’, Hervormde Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies 68/1 (2012), Art. #1267, 9 pp.
  • ‘On the Egyptian Origin of Judith, or Judith as Anat-Yahu’, Journal for Semitics 20/1 (2011), pp. 300-322.
  • ‘Genesis 2:18-25 from a Jungian and Feminist-Deconstructionist Point of View’, Old Testament Essays 23/1 (2010), pp. 44-65.
  • ‘Judith, Feminist Ethics and Feminist Biblical/Old Testament Interpretation’, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 138 (November 2010), pp. 91-111.
  • ‘Personal Transformation and Leadership: Student Responses to the Life-skills Module at the University of Limpopo, 2003-2006’, South African Journal of Higher Education (HELTASA Special Edition) 21/7 (2007), pp. 858-869.
  • Is there a Place for Women in the Theology of the Psalms? Part II: Self-Expression and the “I” in the Ancient Hebrew Psalter. Old Testament Essays 17/2 (2004), pp. 190-207.
  • ‘Text and Interpretation: Gender and Violence in the Book of Judith, Scholarly Commentary and the Visual Arts from the Renaissance onward’, Old Testament Essays 15/1 (2002), pp. 64-84.
  • ‘Is there a Place for Women in the Theology of the Psalms? Part I: an Investigation into the Female Imagery of the Ancient Hebrew Psalter’, Old Testament Essays 12/1 (1999), pp. 33-56.
  • ‘Judith: Lorena Bobbit of Yesteryear. A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Book of Judith according to the Castration Complex’, Scriptura 70/3 (1999), pp. 211 – 228.
  • ‘The Dream of Judith: a Jungian Psychoanalytic Approach’, Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 25/2 (1999), pp. 151-169.
  • ‘Woman to Womyn: Countering Patriarchal Stereotypes in the Book of Ruth’, Journal for Semitics 7/1 (1995), pp. 57-78.

Essays in Books


  • ‘Judith, Feminist Ethics and Feminist Biblical/Hebrew Bible Interpretation Judith’, in A Feminist Companion to Tobit and Judith (Eds. Athalya Brenner-Idan and Helen Efthimiadis-Keith; Bloomsbury, 2015) [= modification of ‘Feminist Ethics and Feminist Biblical/Old Testament Interpretation’, Journal for Theology in Southern Africa 138 (2010), 91-111].
  • ‘Food and Death: An Autobiographic Perspective on Tobit according to One Woman’s Binge-Eating Disorder’, in A Feminist Companion to Tobit and Judith (Eds. Athalya Brenner-Idan and Helen Efthimiadis-Keith; Bloomsbury, 2015)

Published Essays

  • Van Deventer, H & Efthimiadis-Keith, H. ‘Judit? Redding uit ‘n Onverwagse Oord’, in ‘Kyk Weer! Gender-Kritiese Kommentaar op Geselekteerde Bybelse Tekste (ed. L. Nortje-Meyer; 2008), pp. 28-40. ISBN 978-0-86970-662-6
  • Mentorship and Paradigm Shift: The Role of Peer-Collaborative Learning Programmes in Facilitating Key Higher Education Paradigm Shifts at UNIN’, in Paradigm Shift in South African Higher Education (eds. L.A. Kasanga, & Lebakeng; Polokwane: UNIN Press, 2004), pp. 28-52.
  • Jesus en die Vrou Wat op Owerspel Betrap Is’, in Jesus en Vroue (eds. F.A. Swanepoel and C. Landman; UNISA 1997).

Teaching Interests

  • I currently teach modules in Hebrew language, Hebrew Bible, OT Apocrypha, Hebrew Bible exegesis and various exegetical approaches to the Hebrew Bible. I have previously taught many modules in research methodology and academic- and life skills.
  • I have a passion for Teaching and Learning which the School has put to good use many a time.

Student Supervision

  • I enjoy supervising post-graduate students and those who elect to do a Special Focus module in their third year. I have supervised numerous students with topics such as individuation aspects and African rites of passage in the Gospel of John; contextual, economic interpretations of the Books of Amos and Ruth; a Greimassian approach to Judith; trauma theory and Messianic expectation; autobiographical approach to Job; the rape metaphor in Nahum 3; the characterisation of Moses; and African Traditional Religious practices within African Christianity.