Get to know Silviu Bunta

Fr. Silviu BuntaFr. Silviu Bunta grew up in Communist Romania. He was 15 years old when Communism finally fell and religion was "allowed to exist, at best," he said. Still, from a very early age he knew he wanted to study theology. In the 1950s and ‘60s, churches in Romania were being destroyed, hundreds every week, and priests were being jailed at the same rate. Through Bunta's childhood in the ‘70s and ‘80s the regime took more of a discouraging stance towards religion as opposed to a destructive one, and he attended church with his grandparents in a small village of about 120 homes "in the middle of nowhere." It was there he received the "opium of the masses," as the Communist government called religion, and began his life in the Eastern Orthodox church.

Fr. Silviu came to the United States in 1999 after earning his B.A. degree in theology from the University of Sibiu in Romania and a Master's degree in biblical studies from the University of Oradea, also in Romania. His PhD in Hebrew Bible is from Marquette University.

A soft, unplaceable accent transforms everything Fr. Silviu Bunta says into poetry. A quiet black collar wraps around the top of his oxford shirt.

"I look Catholic because I don't dress in my orthodox clothes here on campus," Fr. Silviu said. "If you've ever seen an Orthodox priest, they wear these long robes and they look awkward."

Fr. Silviu is anything but awkward. His classes are known for their friendly, relaxed atmosphere and while he insists he is not, his character is that of an extrovert, passionate about teaching and inspiring students.

"You know when you tell [a student] something that's very interesting and it clicks?" he posited. "That moment really gets me going."

In his time at UD, Fr. Silviu has taught a wide variety of classes on more than 15 different topics. What he really loves to teach is languages such as Hebrew, and reading Greek. He also enjoys teaching anything about Judaism and, of course, Orthodoxy classes.

"Of course, it's my own faith," he laughed.

Fr. Silviu's personal interests lie in Jewish mysticism. "You know, weird things," he explained, "like descriptions of mystical experiences." He also looks for every opportunity to explore the subject in his classes with students. While a Catholic school may not seem like the first place one would explore Jewish mysticism, Fr. Silviu enjoys the experience.

"[My students] come from many different directions," he explained. "Quite a good segment of my students have had prior education, so they do know lots of things. And they've had an education that is quite open, so they enjoy this."

Combine the openness of the student body with the overall feel of the University and you'll find Fr. Silviu's ideal work environment.

"One thing that is so obvious here is the warmth," he said. "It's the spirit of the place, feeling like a family member from the very beginning."

Personally and professionally, Fr. Silviu feels at home at UD. Much of his spare time is spent here, conducting research and writing articles for academic journals. He is currently working on a book-length project investigating the ways in which ancient Christians and Jews interpreted the Bible. Fr. Silviu is concerned with the meanings to which people adhere particular words, and the growing obsession with literalism in the Bible.

"We take it much more literally [than the ancients]!" he said. "Divine as it is, [the Bible] is limited because it is still not God himself. The Bible is about 600 pages. There is no way you can fit God into 600 pages."

When he's not conducting research or entertaining his classes, Fr. Silviu divides his time between his home at UD and Indianapolis, where his wife and daughter live. They enjoy skiing together and frequent the orchestra. He returns home to his 120 home village almost every year to spend time with his aging grandmother with whom he attended clandestine church services as a child.

In May 2012, Fr. Silviu and his family were granted citizenship to the United States, a process they began in 2002. "But what's 10 years? Nothing," he smirked. He was also ordained last year after years of intention. His wife loves antiques, and while he hates all forms of shopping, he entertains himself on antiquing trips eyeing old coins and stamps, himself a collector. Fr. Silviu likes to listen to music, but doesn't play any instruments. He tried drawing once, but now leaves that to his daughter. He writes poetry, but doesn't publish and doesn't talk about it much either.

Fr. Silviu has had a very unique life. A life that has fit in nicely here at the University.

"What makes UD unique is the fact that it's really become home to me," he said. "It's like asking me, 'Why do you still love that small village in Eastern Europe?' I just love it."