A favorite Bible verse of many is Phil. 4:13. It typically reads as I memorized it as a child:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (KJV)
I can do all things/everything through him/Christ who strengthens me. (NASB, GW)
I can do everything through Christ/him who gives me strength. (NIV, TNIV)
The prepositional phrase “through him” is inteded to be an accurate translation of the Greek dative en tw. For those of us who are familiar with Bible English “through him” can be understood. But is it the best English translation of the Greek dative of this verse? Does it follow the syntactic and lexical rules of standard dialects of English? I suggest that it does not.
I would never say that I can do something “through my wife” nor “through” anyone else. Perhaps the word “through” can be used by speakers of some dialects of English to translate the instrumental idea of this dative, but it doesn’t ring right for my ears. It sounds better to my ears to translate a semantic instrumental idea with words such as “by means of”, but even this phrase sounds odd to me when it is referring to an animate person by means of whom or through whose enablement (odd English itself, isn’t it?!) something is done.
I suggest that sometimes instead of translating a biblical language phrase word-for-word, which is what is attempted with “through Christ” and “through him,” it can actually be better English (including more *communicatively* accurate) to restructure the English to more natural phrasing. I have found at least two English versions which do that for this verse.
My favorite for this verse is from the CEV:
Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
The TEV (GNT) translation is more periphrastic but also acceptable English:
I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.
What are other ways you can think of to express the meaning of the dative of Phil. 4:13 using some form of standard English syntax?