Hugo Mendez

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Hugo Méndez

Postdoctoral Fellow


Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2013
M.A., University of Georgia, 2009
B.A., Southern Adventist University, 2006

Fields of Specialization

  • New Testament
  • Reception, Use, and Socio-Cultural History of New Testament texts
  • Early and Late Antique Christianity
  • Greek

Research Interests

  • Johannine literature (Fourth Gospel and I, II, III John)
  • Luke and Acts
  • Ritual uses of biblical texts (lectionaries, hymnody)
  • Martyrs and martyr cults
  • Early Gospel translations (Armenian, Gothic, Latin, Syriac)

Professional Biography

My work is influenced by recent calls to subsume the study of individual New Testament texts as well as their later uses and adaptations under a single rubric: the cultural history of scriptures. On the one hand, I am interested in the meanings individual texts of the New Testament had for the communities that first produced them, and the cultural work for which they were first produced. How is community identity articulated through and around these texts? What kinds of communities or social relations do these texts create, reshape, or disarticulate? At the same time, I am also interested in how later communities—particularly late antique communities—took up these same texts and put them to work in different political, social, and cultural projects.

My current monograph project, tentatively entitled Inventing Stephen: Cult and Competition in Late Antique Jerusalem, explores the use of biblical materials to construct a cult for Stephen the Protomartyr in fifth century Jerusalem. Each chapter of the project illustrates how the cult’s various expressions—its feasts, lectionary readings, architectural spaces, and relic devotions—made “usable” presents of Jerusalem’s scriptural past, with the goal of strengthening the city’s hand in several intra- and extra-mural theaters of competition (Christianity v. Judaism, Antioch/Caesarea v. Jerusalem, etc.).

A second project I am developing focuses on language, insider/outsider status, and identity formation in the Gospel of John. In it, I compare the figurative language of the literary Jesus in John 5, 6 and 14 to a cryptolect—a language variety that misdirects and excludes other individuals from apprehending discourse content, while reinforcing in-group identity.

Before coming to UNC, I was an ISM Fellow in Sacred Music, Worship, and the Related Arts at Yale University, and a lecturer in biblical and liturgical studies at Yale Divinity School.

Courses Teaching at UNC

  • Jesus in Myth, Tradition, and History (Spring 2017)

Selected Awards

ISM Fellowship in Sacred Music, Worship, and the Related Arts, Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University, 2014-16

Selected Publications

Stephen the Martyr (Acts vi-viii) in the Early Jerusalem Lectionary System, Journal of Ecclesiastical History (2017).

“Semitic Poetic Techniques in the Magnificat: Luke 1:46–47, 55.” Journal of Biblical Literature (2016): 551–568.

“‘Night’ and ‘Day’ in John 9.4–5: A Reassessment.” New Testament Studies 61 (2015): 468–481.