Fetured author - Dr Octavian D. Baban
I was born in 1961, in the harbour city of Constanța, Romania, in a Baptist family. Living in a Communist country, I knew from youth what it meant to be followed by the secret police, to be denied social and professional promotion, and yet to live your own life, to survive. It was an interesting experience that made me feel part of society, and still not fully part of it.
I became a Christian with a personal faith in Jesus, when I was 11 years old, and was baptised when I was 14. I learnt in my family and in the Church to live out a true, biblically based faith, to study the Scripture, to love church fellowship and to go on missions in the countryside and downtown. I also learned to be critical when faced with various teachings and doctrines, whether religious or political. My family was always in touch with the underground church and missions, both national and international, and so was I.
I studied Technological Physics at the University of Bucharest (1981-1986, BA, MA) and subsequently specialised in nuclear measurements and materials. After working as a physicist for five years in the area of spectroscopy and environment radiation control, I became an assistant pastor at the First Baptist Church in Constanța in 1990, and then started studying theology via a distance learning programme. I received a grant to study at the London Bible College in the UK (now the London School of Theology) and I got a BA degree in 1994. Later I was a awarded a PhD in Biblical Studies at the same College (via Brunel University, 1999) for a thesis on mimesis and Luke’s theology of the Way and of journeying in Luke-Acts. This study was published as On the Road Encounters in Luke-Acts. A mimetic reading of Luke’s theology of the Way (Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2006).
I began teaching at the Baptist Theological Institute of Bucharest in 1998 and at present I am assistant professor in New Testament Studies (teaching Introduction, Biblical Theology, Exegesis and Hermeneutics) and Head of Department. I also teach the same subjects at the Baptist Theological Faculty in the University of Bucharest. Meanwhile, I am ministering as the Bible study and mission pastor in the pastoral team of Holy Trinity Baptist Church of Bucharest, Romania, in a team of five pastors.
In time, I also taught New Testament courses at the International Baptist Lay Academy in Szigetzengmiclosz, Hungary (2000, BA), at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre in Prague, Czech Republic (now in Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 2001-2008). During 2010-2017 I was visiting professor at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Amsterdam, Netherlands, where I also supervised a number of MA dissertations. I also taught courses of New Testament Political Theology (MA) at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest. Since 2017 I am working on a biblical-patristic studies projects with the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven, Belgium; we are producing a Bible commentary series, studies on John Chrysostom, Marius Victorinus, doctoral consultations, etc.
I am very fond of Bible translations and I worked as a Bible translator and Bible translation editor for the New Testament translation of the Romanian Interconfessional Bible Society 2004-2009; this New Testament in contemporary Romanian was published in 2009.
Apart from textbooks for my courses, I published theological articles in Romanian and English journals and magazines, in Festschrifts and in books on apologetics and evangelical theology. I am very interested in Christian media and I have participated in many TV and radio programmes, produced by Christian or national media, such as Voice of the Gospel Radio, Hope Radio, Trans World Radio, the Romanian national TV programme, Tele7ABC, Hope TV and A7TV.
I am also fond of defending the apostolic faith and very interested in apologetics. I have a number of courses and conferences on Genesis, on the Gospels and on the history of apologetics (with the Vox Dei Institute of Apologetics, a branch of Reasonable Faith – Romanian Chapter). I admire C.S. Lewis and am an avid reader of his books. I am interested in open theology, social theology and theories of social identity in the contemporary world, Christian or not. In particular, I enjoyed contributing the comments on The Gospel according to Luke and a few other articles to the recent Central and Eastern European Bible Commentary (2023).
As missions pastor in our church I am involved in encouraging and organising the local and international mission connected with our community. As Bible study pastor I organise the Bible studies for small groups and for general Bible reading in the church. At the moment we are in a 25-year programme of studying the Bible, each year focusing on four to five books. The study booklets are written by me and a team of three other pastors and teachers in our church.
All these interests are reflected in the range and specific materials on my website www.obinfonet.ro, which has two sections: one academic, linked to my teaching, and one church-related, linked to our Bible studies in the small groups. Our short and devotional commentaries on the Bible books aim at being dynamic, balanced academically, challenging and applied to our personal lives as believers.
At the moment, I am involved in various projects:
- Patristical studies (Marius Victorinus)
- An exegetical commentary on Ephesians, together with Dr Drake Williams, III, at ETF Leuven, to be published in early 2024
- Promoting an exegetical commentary series in Romanian, see https://seria-scer.com/
- Promoting an exegetical commentary series in English in cooperation with ETF Leuven, Dr Kobus Kok and Gorgias Press, see https://www.gorgiaspress.com/early-christian-writers-a-commentary-series
- A book on Political Theology of the New Testament
I am discovering Karl Barth, due to an invitation by FEET, and I am more and more interested in understanding his theology and its impact in the 20th century, the need to proclaim Christ today in a way that impacts and revolutionises theological thinking in evangelical circles, and meaningfully communicates the Gospel of salvation to a changing, troubled and searching world.
Daniela, my spouse, and I got happily married in 1983 – and still are so. We have two children: a daughter, Raluca, and a son, Vlad; both are married and living in Romania. We are enjoying our family very much: our children and their spouses, and our in-laws. We particularly love meeting, playing or spending time with our grandsons, Darius and Benjamin.
My deep conviction is that the meaning of life resides in experiencing salvation through faith in Christ’s cross and life, in enjoying God’s presence and guidance in our lives, learning to trust him in practical terms and to live in obedience to him. We take special delight in church fellowship and mission, and in teaching and counselling families and individuals to live closer to God and his standards. We enjoy journeying to the countryside, working in the garden and doing some arts, photography and mountaineering. Daniela and I are fond of our quiet mornings, whenever possible, enjoying a cup of coffee around a theological – or maybe not so theological – discussion.