Thursday, September 04, 2008

Enlisted Soldiers

I grew up with the RSV translation of the Bible and still many verses come to mind from that translation before the NIV words, although I use the NIV now. The other morning I picked up my RSV, because my NIV seemed too have wandered off somewhere, and read from there. This verse jumped out at me. 'No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him.' I had read the same passage the previous day in the NIV and the verse just went past me, so I got the NIV and looked it up. 'No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs - he wants to please his commanding officer.'
The RSV packs a whole lot more punch - to me anyway.
On service - serving as : the first sounds more intentional than the second.
entangled - involved in: involved is good, entangled not good and stronger word.
aim - wants: the first word is goal driven, the second just slightly more than passive
satisfy - please: the first word gives the idea of achieving something, the second of just raising the stakes
one who enlisted him - commanding officer: the first implies a personal relationship, however slight. The second gives no idea of relationship.

I really like the RSV translation - because I like things to happen - I guess I'm not that passive. Which one is correct?

The Greek for On service - someone (male or female) active in war. (RSV better)
Entangled - no Strong's word. Lexicon offers entangle or involve!
Aim/wants - better to say 'in order that' (NIV better)
satisfy/please - to be agreeable (NIV probably better)
enlisted/ commanding - no Strong's word. Lexicon - one who got the army together. (RSV better).
So two points to NIV and two points to RSV!


Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

2Ti 2:4 "A soldier on active duty wants to please his commanding officer and so does not get mixed up in the affairs of civilian life". This is the New RSV

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thanks Pete, I like that. I guess the New RSV would score 3 points on my scale. With an extra point for 'mixed up' instead of involved or entangled.

Steve Hayes said...

In the army, no soldier gets himself mixed up in civilian life, because he must be at the disposal of the man who enlisted him.

2 Tim 2:4, Jerusalem Bible.

I generally prefer the Jerusalem Bible for reading aloud, the RSV for study. I find that generally the language in the JB flows better and has more punch.

Steve Hayes said...

PS - Roman military slang for civilians was pagani and entered Christian slang as well, perhaps with this verse in mind. It probably had connotations similar to "punters" in British English today.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thanks Steve. The interesting thing is - if I saw it correctly - that the word civilian does not appear in the Greek text at all. It simply refers to the affairs of 'this life'. But I think that is a fair interpretation on the part of the translators!