Fr Benedict Crawford (Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church, McComb, MS) has an interesting post comparing “two translations of a kontakion for Sts. Constantine and Helen (May 21).” Rightly Father points out how in the original Greek, the hymn uses “strikingly military language” that seems to be lost in at least some translations of the text. You can compare the two translations and read the whole of his post here). To his observations–which are excellent–let me add to his observation about the absence of martial language in some translations.
There is a significant difference between the translations regarding the battle that is joined with the Cross. In the first case, the battle is an actual military contest; under the sign of the Cross Constantine is victorious in war. This is lost in the second translation since the battle is internalized and universalized; under the sign of the Cross we are victorious in our ascetical struggle. This second translation–interpretation really–radically shifts the reference at the expense of the historical meaning of the feast.
There is, to my mind, a disturbing tendency among contemporary Orthodox Christians to embrace uncritically secular pacifism and to downplay, if not actively reject, the vocation of the Christian warrior. Yes, pacifism is a legitimate Christian vocation but it is no more–or less–legitimate than the call to serve Christ in military service. Both vocations have produced saints, both can be blessed as “peacemakers” even as both have produced their share of selfish thugs and cowards. “All in all, a disappointment that the OCA text departs so far from the sense of the original kontakion.”
h/t Byzantine, Texas