anchor (figurative)

The Greek that is translated into English as “anchor (of the soul)” in English is, due to non-existing nautical language, rendered as xuk’chotontib (“that which becomes unmovable”) in Chol (source: Steven 1979, p. 75), as “iron crab” in Bawm Chin (source: David Clark), as “foundation” in Tsou (source: Peng Kuo-Wei), in Mossi as “a strong and steadfast picketting-peg” (source: Nida 1952, p. 46) and in Enlhet as “that holds up like a rope” (source: See Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff).

In Kouya the translation is “the foundation which keeps a house secure.” Eddie Arthur tells this story: “A slightly more prosaic example comes from Paul’s sea voyages in the Book of Acts. In Acts 27, when Paul’s ship was facing a huge storm, there are several references to throwing out the anchor to save the ship. Now the Kouya live in a tropical rain-forest and have no vessels larger than dug-out canoes used for fishing on rivers. The idea of an anchor was entirely foreign to them. However, it was relatively easy to devise a descriptive term along the lines of ‘boat stopping metal’ that captured the essential nature of the concept. This was fine when we were translating the word anchor in its literal sense. However, in Hebrews 6:19 we read that hope is an anchor for our souls. It would clearly make no sense to use ‘boat stopping metal’ at this point as the concept would simply not have any meaning. So in this verse we said that faith was like the foundation which keeps a house secure. One group working in the Sahel region of West Africa spoke of faith being like a tent peg which keeps a tent firm against the wind. I hope you can see the way in which these two translations capture the essence of the image in the Hebrews verse while being more appropriate to the culture.”


The Greek that is translated as “soul” in English is translated in Chol with a term that refers to the invisible aspects of human beings (source: Robert Bascom).

The Chinese línghún (靈魂 / 灵魂), literally “spirit-soul,” is often used for “soul” (along with xīn [心] or “heart”). This is a term that was adopted from Buddhist sources into early Catholic writings and later also by Protestant translators. (Source: Zetzsche 1996, p. 32, see also Clara Ho-yan Chan in this article )

See also heart, soul, mind.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Heb. 6:19)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the inclusive form (including the writer and the readers of this letter).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (Hebrews 6:19)

Following are a number of back-translations of Hebrews 6:19:

  • Uma: “That hoping of ours is like a foundation-stone that makes our hearts stay so that our faith does not shake/rock. In the Worship Tent that the prophet Musa built long ago, a cloth middle-wall blocked the way of mankind so they could not enter the More Holy Room. But we, there is nothing that blocks our way to meet-with God.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Our (incl.) expectation/hope in God’s promises is figuratively like an anchor that makes us (dual) firm/fixes us to God. It is very certain that God fulfills his promises because Isa has already gone ahead of us (dual) to heaven into the presence of God mediating for us (incl.). Like the Yahudi priests enter the temple (lit. big prayer-house) (and) go into the innermost room that is shielded by thick cloth, like that Isa has entered into the presence of God because now he is high priest forever like the priest Malkisadik of old.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “,” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “This hope of ours, that is what makes-firm/stable our faith, because it is certain to be fulfilled. Because of our hope, it’s as if we have already entered the exact place of God like the entering of the highest priest into the Holiest Room in the Temple which a curtain hid-from-view.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “This hope/expectation of ours which is firmly-grounded, what it’s like is a firm anchor of our souls/spirits, so that they will not be lost. For there’s no other anchoring-place except in the presence of God, which is like in the Exceedingly Far-from-ordinary Room in the Temple , on the other side of the view-blocking curtain.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “We do not doubt that there will be our part in the good which God will give. Because the one in whom we have confidence and we rest our minds on is Jesus Christ who is in heaven.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)