Hugo Mendez

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Hugo Méndez

Assistant Professor


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

Fields of Specialization

  • New Testament
  • Reception and Cultural History of New Testament texts
  • Early and Late Antique Christianity
  • Greek

Research Interests

  • Johannine literature
  • Luke and Acts
  • Ritual uses of biblical texts (lectionaries, stational liturgy, hymnody)
  • Martyrs cults, feasts, pilgrimages, and relics
  • Early Gospel translations (Armenian, Syriac, Latin, Gothic)

Professional Biography

My work interprets Christian communities of the first six centuries by their production, reproduction, uses, and adaptations of New Testament texts—a cultural-historical project that transcends the current divide between the study of the New Testament and the study of its reception. On the one hand, I am interested in the meanings Luke, Acts, John, and 1, 2, 3, John had for the communities that first produced them, and the social and cultural projects for which these texts were produced. As a linguist by training, I am especially interested in how the peculiar linguistic and stylistic features of these texts frame and support these aims. At the same time, I am also interested in how later communities—especially late ancient communities in the Christian East—took up these same texts and put them to work in different political, social, and cultural projects.

My current book manuscript fits squarely within this segment of my research. Entitled Inventing Stephen: A Patron Martyr for Late Antique Jerusalem, the book explores the use of biblical materials to construct a local cult for Stephen the Protomartyr in the fourth and fifth century. Canvassing the diverse expressions of the cult, it illuminates Jerusalem as a specific cultural site: how the church understood its biblical past, how it articulated this self-understanding through and around the biblical martyr it selected as a local patron, and how it reproduced this knowledge in texts, monuments, and ritual practices related to the martyr’s cult. Secondarily, I am beginning work on a manuscript that explores the content and social functions of the eschatological discourses in John.

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

Courses Teaching at UNC

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

Selected Awards

Fellowship, Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016–18

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.