Oct 1, 2014

"I write these things being absent"

A WWI and WWII monument in Pfäffingen, Germany:

The scripture reference would appear to be wrong, here. Possibly the monument-maker was using a Bible with an alternative numbering, but I can't a German Bible reflecting that. It seems there is a mistake. The words come from 2 Corinithians 13:11 not 13:10. 

In the Luther Bible, 2 Corinthians 13:10 says "Derhalben schreibe ich auch solches abwesend, auf daß ich nicht, wenn ich gegenwärtig bin, Schärfe brauchen müsse nach der Macht, welche mir der HERR, zu bessern und nicht zu verderben, gegeben hat." None of these words match the inscription of the monument.

The words inscribed in the monument in the small town near Tübingen come from the next verse, which reads in full: "Zuletzt, liebe Brüder, freuet euch, seid vollkommen, tröstet euch, habt einerlei Sinn, seid friedsam! so wird der Gott der Liebe und des Friedens mit euch sein."

In the King James English, 2 Corinthians 13:10 reads: "Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction." This seems an unlikely inscription for a war memorial.

The words in stone come from the verse after that are more suited to the purpose: "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."

The abbreviated inscription can be translated, "Finally, dear brothers, have one mind, be in peace.

Pfäffingen had a population of about 400 at the time of the First World War. Nonetheless, 24 young men from the village were killed in the war. The first died the month the war started, on August 6, 1914. The last died a few days before the end, on November 7, 1918.

There are 32 names on the monument from young men killed in the Second World War, at the time the village still had a population under 500. Twenty-two of the 32 men died in the last two years of the war, 1944 and 1945.