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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.31 n.3 Pretoria  2018




Wilhelm (Willie) Joseph Wessels




Wilhelm (Willie) Joseph Wessels obtained his BA degree in 1975, BA (Hons) Semitic Languages in 1977 and a BD degree in 1978. Here an initial interest in Hebrew led to a passion for the texts of the Old Testament and, more specifically, the prophetic materials. In 1985 Willie completed his doctoral dissertation on Jeremiah's view of the Kingship: Analysis of Jeremiah 21:1-23-8 under the supervision of Prof Ferdinand Deist. The research included ideological-critical analysis (amongst others). He also had the privilege to study under Dr Robert Carroll in Glasgow and Dr Helga Weippert in Heidelberg during his doctoral studies. Together with Deist, these scholars stirred in Willie Wessels the latent spirit unfolding in a career-long plunging of the depths of biblical prophecy which focussed not only on Jeremiah, but also Micah, Nahum and Haggai and specifically on the perspectives implicit in these books on issues of social justice and righteousness, ethics, power, violence and the role and responsibility of leadership.

Willie Wessels' career was devoted to the life of a full professor in the department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at Unisa since 1994. The research done in this capacity and surrounds included over a dozen chapters in books and more than seventy articles in peer-reviewed journals. As co-editor of publications, Willie teamed up with UNISA colleagues Prof Eben H Scheffler for Science and Reality (Verbum Vitae, 1992) and with Dr JG Strydom on Prophetic perspectives on power and social justice (Biblia, 2000). In 2013, Willie's book Prophets on Power: Conversations with Micah and Jeremiah was published by Biblaridion. Other notable publications include a chapter on Nahum in the prestigious Fortress Commentary on the Bible and his work on Micah featured in major studies, from Carol Dempsey's Liberation-Critical Reading (2000) to Daniel Smith-Christopher's Commentary on Micah (Old Testament Library series, 2015).

Between 2013 and 2017 Willie conducted research on true and false prophets in the book of Jeremiah in collaboration with Ellen van Wolde at Radboud University in Nijmegen as part of a grant awarded to him by the Dutch government. Local projects include parts of Afrikaans Bible translations like Die Boodskap (2002), Nuwe Lewende Vertaling (2006) and Die Bybel: 'n Direkte Vertaling (2015). He participated in the conference activities of several scholarly societies, including SBL, SPS, OTSSA and SASNES. He acted as expert reviewer for journals such JSem, OTE, HTS, Acta Theologica, Scriptura, In die Skriflig, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae and Koers and published over thirty book reviews.

Willie's status as established researcher (C2 NRF rating) is also evident in his being elected to the editorial boards of the Journal for Pentecostal Theology (Sheffield Academic Press) and the Journal of Biblical and Pneumatological Research (Wipf and Stock). His work also stood in the Pentecostal tradition as is testified to by his contributions to the Society for Pentecostal Studies in the USA and his presentation of papers at their annual meetings on numerous occasions. In 2006 the editor of the commentary on the Book of the Twelve, Dr Chris Thomas, Professor of Biblical Studies at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, TN, invited him to write a commentary on the books of Micah and Nahum (2017, Deo Publishing, Dorset, UK). In the local church contexts, Willie was also active as board member of the council of the Apostolic Faith Mission Theological Institute in Soshanguve, Tshwane from 1998-2008.

In terms of teaching, mentoring and supervision, Willie supervised a number of doctoral and masters' students and often acted as external examiner for the students of others, both locally and internationally. He was invited to conduct post-graduate seminars at St Petersburg Christian University in Russia (2000 and 2005), at Regent University in Virginia Beach, USA (1993) and at Providence Theological Seminary, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (2006 and 2008). Willie was also part of the initial pioneers of a post-graduate seminar on the Prophets (Prophsem, 2012).

In January 2018 he graduated with his second PhD, which he earned at the Radboud University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands under Prof Ellen van Wolde.




Wessels, W. J. and Scheffler, EH (eds). 1992. Science and reality. Pretoria: Verba Vitae.

Wessels, W. J. and Strydom, JG 2000. Prophetic perspectives on power and social justice. Pretoria: Biblia.

Wessels, Wilhelm, J. 2013. Prophets on Power: Conversations with Micah and Jeremiah. Pretoria: Biblaridion.

Contributions to books

Wessels, W. J. 1988. Chapters on Jeremiah, Jonah, Micah and Nahum, in: Burden JJ & Prinsloo, WS Dialogue with God. Cape Town: Tafelberg.

Wessels, W. J. 1989. Geloof in die boek Habakuk, in Vorster, WS & Engelbrecht, AS. Romeine en geloof. Pretoria: Unisa.

Wessels, W. J. 1989. Die verhaal van Jeremia se grondtransaksie, in Swanepoel, F (red). Bybelse stories en hulle geheim. CB Powell: Unisa.

Wessels, W. J. 1991. Woorde van lewe, in Swanepoel, F (red). So het die Here gesê .. UNISA: CB Powell.

Wessels, W. J. 1992. Jeremiah 20:1-6: Is the truth so obvious? in Wessels, W J & Scheffler, EH (eds). Science and reality. Pretoria: Verba Vitae.

Wessels, W. J. 1993. Verklärende aantekeninge: Die Boek Joël. Nuwe Afrikaanse Vertaling Verwysingsuitgawe. Bybelgenootskap. (Explanatory notes on the Book of Joel for a new Afrikaans Translation.)

Wessels, W. J. 1994. A Theology of Renewal: A Perspective on Social Justice from the Book of Jeremiah, in Wilson, M (ed) Spirit and Renewal: Essays in Honor of J. Rodman Williams, 92- 109. Sheffield Academic Press.

Wessels, W. J. 1997. Spiritual renewal of a people. Joel 2:28-32, in Gräbe, PJ & Hattingh, W J 1997. The Reality of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Festschrift for FP Möller, Pretoria: Van Schaik.

Wessels, W. J. 1998. Biblical hermeneutics, in Maimela, S and König, A, Invitation to Theology, 261-273. Pretoria:Van Schaik.

Wessels, W. J. 2005. Reconciliation: A prophetic perspective, in van der Watt, J, Human, D & Steyn, G (eds). Friendship and Love where there were none. Biblical perspectives on reconciliation, 55-67. Pretoria: University of Pretoria Printers.

Wessels, W. J. 2008. Temas: Skepping, Plante van die Bybel, Ballingskap en Kosmologie, Jeremia, die Boek Jeremia in Gaum, F (hoofredakteur) Christelike Kern-Ensiklopedie. Wellington: Lux Verbi.

Wessels, W. J. Commentary writing on the Books of Micah and Nahum for Pentecostal Commentary Series. Sheffield Press (Volume on the Twelve Minor Prophets in colaboration with scholars from the USA; forthcoming).

Wessels, W. J. 2012. Prophets and Ethics: A Study of Jeremiah5:26-20, in Human, D J Psalmody and Poetry in Old Testament Ethics, 181-196. New York: T&T Clark.

Wessels, W. J. 2015. Nahum, in Yee, G A, Page Jr, H R and Coomber, M J M (eds), Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The Old Testament and Apocrypha, 885-891. Minneapolis: Fortress.

Wessels, W. J. 2018. Nahum: Oppression as a social justice issue, in Gossai, Hemchand (ed), Postcolonial Commentary and the Old Testament, London: Bloomsbury.

Bible translation

Wessels, W. J. 2002. Die Boodskap. Die Bybel in Hedendaagse Afrikaans. Vertaling van Job, Jeremia, Miga, Nahum, Habakuk, Sefanja, Haggai Sagaria. (Bible translation in Afrikaans: The books of Job, Jeremiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai and Zechariah).

Wessels, W. J. 2006. Die Bybel: Nuwe Lewende Vertaling. Vertaling van Esra, Nehemia, Jeremia, Joël, Amos, Obadja, Jona, Miga, Nahum, Habakuk, Sefanja, Haggai, Maleagi. (Bible translation in Afrikaans (similar to NLT): The books of Esra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Joe, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai and Malachi).

Wessels, W. J. 2009-2015. Die Afrikaanse Bybelse Vertaling (ABV). Jeremia (project of the South African Bible Society: completed).

Articles published (also as co-author) in accredited journals

Wessels, W. J. 1984. Towards an ideological-critical understanding of Jeremiah 22, 13-19. OTE 2, 61-80.

Wessels, W. J. 1988. Haggai from a historian's point of view. OTE 1, 2 (new series), 47-62.

Wessels, W. J. 1989. Jeremiah 22, 24-30: A Proposed ideological reading. ZAW 101, 2, 232-249.

Wessels, W. J. 1989. Isaiah 22, 15-25: a Paradigm for restoring just officials? OTE 2, 2, 1-14.

Wessels, W. J. 1990. The validity of Old Testament Theology: Eichrodt, a forerunner of the modern era. OTE 3, 2, 147-157.

Wessels, W. J. 1991. Jeremiah 33, 15-16 as a reinterpretation of Jeremiah 23, 5-6. HTS 47, 1, 231-246.

Wessels, W. J. 1991. Jeremiah 24:1-10 as a pronouncement of hope? OTE 4, 3, 397-407.

Wessels, W. J. 1991. Biblical theology: A challenge to modern scholars. Scriptura, 40, 30-39.

Wessels, W. J. 1992. Skrifgebruik en samelewing: Die Apostoliese Geloof Sending van Suid-Afrika. In die Skriflig, 16, 3, 1-16.

Wessels, W. J. 1992. Sosiale geregtigheid: 'n Perspektief uit die Jeremiaboek. Skrif en Kerk 13, 1.

Wessels, W. J. 1993. The fallibility and future of leadership according to Jeremiah 23:1-4. OTE 6, 3, 330-338.

Wessels, W. J. 1994. Winds of change: An Old Testament theological perspective. OTE 7, 2, 205-230.

Wessels, W. J. 1997. Wisdom in the gate. Micah takes the rostrum. OTE 10, 1, 125-135.

Wessels, W. J. 1997. Conflicting powers. Reflections from the book of Micah. OTE 10, 3, 428- 544.

Wessels, W. J. 1998. Micah1, an apt introduction to power talks. Skrif en Kerk, 19, 2, 438-448.

Wessels, W. J. 1998. Nahum, an uneasy expression of Yahweh's power. OTE 11,3, 615-628.

Wessels, W. J. 1999. Micah 4 and 5. A battle of words and perceptions. OTE 12, 3, 623-641.

Wessels, W. J. 2000. Cheating at the market place-impressions from Micah 6:916. Skrif en Kerk, 21, 2, 406-415.

Wessels, W. J. 2001. A Pentecostal response to violence in the book of Nahum. Ekklesiastikos Pharos 83, 1.

Wessels, W. J. 2001. Ou Testament Teologie: Quo Vadis? 'n Bydrae tot die voortgaande debat. OTE, 14, 2, 330-344.

Wessels, W. J. 2002. Meeting Yahweh's requirements. A proposed reading of Micah 6:1-8. OTE 15, 2, 539-550.

Wessels, W. J. 2003. Micah 7:8-20: An apt conclusion to the book of Micah. Verbum et Ecclesia, 24, 1, 249-259.

Wessels, W. J. 2003. Taking issue with thoughts on Church leadership. Ekklesiastikus Pharos 85, 1/2, 160-176.

Wessels, W. J. 2003. Facing the challenges of disrupted societies. Interacting with Micah 7:1-7 from a perceived South African context. OTE 16, 2, 489501.

Wessels, W. J. 2003. The tip of the iceberg. Leadership and leader interaction in, the book of Haggai in a time of resettling and reconstruction. OTE 16, 2, 502-518.

Wessels, W. J. 2003. Engaging the book of Haggai in Leadership issues. OTE 16, 3, 767-784.

Wessels, W. J. 2004. Setting the stage for the future of the kingship: A critical reading of Jeremiah 21:1-10. OTE 17, 3, 470-483.

Wessels, W. J. 2005. Bridging the gap: Haggai's use of tradition to secure the future. OTE 18, 2, 426-443.

Wessels, W. J. 2005. 'Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate...'- A prophetic perspective on reconciliation and restoration. Verbum et Ecclesia 26, 1, 308-325.

Wessels, W. J. 2005. Yahweh the awesome God. Perspectives from Nahum chapter 1. JSem 14, 1, 55-73.

Wessels, W. J. 2006. Nahum 2: A call to witness a display of "Yahweh's power. JSem 15, 2, 544-563.

Wessels, W. J. 2006. Zion, beautiful city of God. Zion Theology in the book of Jeremiah. Verbum et Ecclesia 27, 729-748.

Wessels, W. J. 2006. Old Testament Theology: Uniqueness, Modes of interpretation and Meaning. OTE 19, 3, 1032-1051.

Wessels, W. J. 2007. A prophetic word to a prophet: Jonah 4:10-11 as reprimand. JSem 16, 2, 551-569.

Wessels, W. J. 2007. Leadership and Power in the Israelite Society. Ekklesiastikos Pharos 89, (New Series 18), 364-377.

Wessels, W. J. 2007. Prophets and Power. Micah 3:8 - a case study. JSem 16, 2, 570-586.

Wessels, W. J. 2007. Josiah the Idealised King in the Kingship Cycle in the Book of Jeremiah. OTE 20, 3, 860-876.

Wessels, W. J. 2008. Prophets, Poetry and Ethics: A Study of Jeremiah 5:26-29. OTE 21, 3, 729-744.

Wessels, W. J. 2008. Some Reflections and Propositions on meeting the demands of Old Testament Theology. Ekklesiastikos Pharos 90, 190-206.

Wessels, W. J. 2008. 'n Verkenning van Tendense in Profetenavorsing. OTE 22, 1, 25-227.

Wessels, W. J. 2009. Empowered by the Spirit of Yahweh. A Study of Micah 3:8. Journal of Biblical and Pneumatological Research 1, 34-48.

Wessels, W. J. 2009. Social implications of Knowing Yahweh. A study of Jeremiah 9:22-23. Verbum et Ecclesia 30, 2, 1-7.

Wessels, W. J. 2009. Prophet versus Prophet: In Search of the True Prophets in Jeremiah 23:16-22. OTE, 23, 3, 733-751.

Wessels, W. J. 2010. The newness of the word: Hermeneutical implications of the reinterpretation of Prophetic words in the book of Jeremiah. JSem 19, 1, 214-234.

Wessels, W. J. 2010. Connected Leadership. A Study of Jeremiah 8: Koers, 3, 483-501.

Wessels, W. J. 2010. God the Creator: Contrasting Images in Psalm 65:10-14 and Jeremiah 23:9-15. OTE, 23, 3. 846-860.

Wessels, W. J. 2011. Failed leadership in the Book of Jeremiah: Re-use of prophetic oracles in a new context. Ekklesiastikos Pharos 93, N. S. 22, 7893.

Wessels, W. J. 2011. Prophets at Loggerheads: Accusations of adultery in Jeremiah 23:9-15. Acta Theologica 2, 299-315.

Wessels, W. J. 2011. 'So they do not profit this people at all' (Jer 23:32). A Critique of Prophecy. Verbum et Ecclesia 32, 1-7.

Wessels, W. J. 2011. "My Word is Like Fire": The Consuming Power of YHWH's Word. OTE 24, 2, 494-512.

Wessels, W. J. 2012. True and false prophets: who is to decide? JSem 21, 1, 137156.

Wessels, W. J. 2012. I've had it with You: Jeremiah 23:33-40 as Culmination of Yhwh's Frustration. OTE 25, 3, 761-766.

Wessels, W. J. 2012. True and False Prophecy: Relating a perspective from the book of Jeremiah to the Pentecostal/Charismatic Tradition. Ekklesiastikos Pharos 94, N.S. 23, 23-42.

Serfontein, J. and Wessels, W. J. 2013. Hearing the "good news" in the book of Nahum: A socio-rhetorical enquiry. JSem 22, 1, 177-192.

Wessels, W. J. 2013. YHWH, the God of new beginnings: Micah's testimony. HTS 69, 1-8.

Serfontein, J. and Wessels, W. J. 2013. Imagine that! Perspectives on metaphor and prophetic imagination from Ezekiel. Ekkesiastikos Pharos 95, N.S. 24, 200-216.

Wessels, W. J. 2013. The blame game: Prophetic rhetoric and ideology in Jeremiah 14:10-16. OTE 26, 3, 864-881.

Wessels, W. J. 2013. A battle for the hearts and minds of people: Prophetic encounters in the book of Jeremiah. JSem 22, 2, 426-448.

Wessels, W. J. 2014. Leadership responsibility in the workplace: Exploring the Shepherd metaphor in the book of Jeremiah. Koers - Bulletin for Christian Scholarship; 79, 2, 6 pages.

Wessels, W. J. 2014. Subversion of Power: Exploring the Lion Metaphor in Nahum 2:12-14. OTE 27, 2, 703-721.

Wessels, W. J. 2014. Leadership in times of crisis: Nahum as master of language and imagery. JSem, 2, 315-338.

Serfontein, J. and Wessels, W. J. 2014. Communicating amidst reality: Exekiel's communication as a response to his reality. Verbum et Ecclesia 35(1), Art. #1335, 8 pages.

Wessels, W. J. 2015. Prophetic sensing of Yahweh's word, HTS Teologiese Studies/ Theological Studies 71(3), Art. #2923, 9. Pages

Wessels, W. J. 2015. Leaders and times of crisis: Jeremiah 5:1-6 a case in point. Journal for Semitics (JSem) 24/2 (2015), 657-677.

Wessels, W. J. 2015. Prophetic sensing of Yahweh's word, HTS Teologiese Studies/ Theological Studies 71(3), Art. #2923, 9. Pages

Wessels, W. J. 2015. Calling Leaders to Account: A Dialogue with Jeremiah 5:19. OTE 28/3 (2015), 874-893.

Wessels, W. J. and Barentsen, J. 2016. Crisis Leadership amidst Change: The Case of the Prophet Jeremiah. Accepted for publication in Barentsen, Jack, Kessler, Volker & Meier, Elke (eds). Christian Leadership in a Changing World: Perspectives from Africa and Europe. Christian Perspectives on Leadership and Social Ethics (CPSLE) Leuven: Peeters Publ. (Peer reviewed conference proceedings).

Wessels, W. J. 2016. 'Patience, presence and promise: A Study of prophetic realism', Verbum et Ecclesia 37(1), a1584.

Wessels, W. J. 2016. Jeremiah 23:23-24 as polemic against prophets' views on Yahweh's presence. HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 72 (3), a3162.

Wessels, W. J. 2017. Rhetorical Language as a Device for Jeremiah's Authenticity Claims: His Rivalry with Adversaries in 23:9-15. Journal for Semitics 26/1 (2017), 158-176.

Wessels, W. J. 2017. The metaphorical Depiction of Nineveh's Demise: The use of the locust 'Market Metaphor' in Nahum 3:15-17. Scriptura 116 (2), 2017, 246-259.

Wessels, W. J. 2018. To Know Yahweh is to Care for the Poor. Reflections from the Book of Jeremiah. Pharos Journal of Theology ISSN 2414-3324 online Volume 99 - (2018). Online @ 1

Wessels, W. J. 2018. Cultural sensitive readings of Nahum 3:1-7. HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies, vol.1, 1-7.

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