No major version I consulted, not even the ASV, translated this phrase literally.

It occurs in 2 John 12 and 3 John 13, “mouth to mouth” (στόμα πρὸς στόμα). Most translate it as “face to face,” so ESV, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NIV, McCord, Littrell. Moffatt, as “have a talk.” The literal translation reminds a modern reader of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Or kissing, perhaps. The versions do well not to translate it literally.

But the non-literal translation by some of the major versions, even those that style themselves as basically being word-for-word renderings, belies the literalness of their claim.

3 thoughts on “No version is literal: mouth to mouth

  1. Young’s Literal Translation

    12 Many things having to write to you, I did not intend through paper and ink, but I hope to come unto you, and speak mouth to mouth, that our joy may be full; (2 Jn)

    14 and I hope straightway to see thee, and mouth to mouth we shall speak. (3 Jn)

  2. Hello, Johnny, yes, I saw Young’s. That’s why I said “major versions,” which Young’s is not considered to be.

What do you think?