April 18, 2013 | 11:54 a.m.
By Mark Van Dusseldorp '14
Juan Hernández, associate professor of biblical studies, has been passionate about the Bible since age 10, when discussions with an uncle inspired him to study scripture. Hernández’s journey led him to studies at Valley Forge Christian College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Emory University, where he earned a Ph.D. in New Testament. He arrived at Bethel in 2006 and has made significant contributions to scholarly research since then, with most of his work revolving around the text of the Apocalypse. “I find the way the book was handled by Christians during the early centuries of Christianity to be an endlessly fascinating topic,” he says.
In 2012, Hernández wrote four published articles in four separate volumes, all reflecting his abiding interest in the textual history of the New Testament. Two more essays are forthcoming, and he is currently researching the Apocalypse’s seventh-century corrections in Codex Sinaiticus. “The manuscript itself was copied and corrected in the fourth century,” he explains. “However, in the seventh century, it was corrected once again, this time rather extensively. These corrections offer a glimpse into the state of the circulating copies of the Apocalypse, as well as of the copying standards of a later historical period.”
Hernández’s preliminary findings indicate that some crucial errors were made by textual critics regarding the dating of the manuscript’s corrections. “If my discovery holds,” he says, “it will change the way scholars understand the Apocalypse’s transmission history and impact future studies of the book’s textual history.” Last fall, his first report on the seventh-century corrections of Codex Sinaiticus was well-received at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Chicago, leading to an invitation to present his findings in greater detail this fall at the Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel in Germany.
Hernández serves on a number of respected scholarly committees, and in 2012 his work on Andrew of Caesarea was hailed as part of today’s “new wave” in New Testament text-criticism. He credits Bethel faculty for their support, and his students for their eagerness to learn. “I thoroughly enjoy being at a liberal arts institution where the Bible remains a central part of the curriculum,” he says. “There is nothing like teaching the Bible in a setting where a wide array of disciplines and interests are also part of the community learning experience to keep a scholar honest!”
This article first appeared in the Winter/Spring 2013 issue of Bethel Magazine.