A proposed new edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Book of Psalms contains 243 changes in the "sexist" use of the words "he" and "him," says a National Council of Churches official who has seen the new manuscript.
"For example, "Blessed is the man' in Psalm I becomes 'Blessed are they,'" said Emily V. Gibbes, associate general secretary for the council's Division of Education and Ministry.
She said the Revised Standard Version committee, a subcommittee of her division, has been working for some years on a new edition of the Old Testament and has finally completed the manuscript for the book of Psalms.
Gibbes said mamy male terms have been replaced by neutral words such as "one," "they" or "people." But the scholars did not eliminate all masculine terms found in the 150 Psalms, only those that were clearly sexist not intended in the original language.
"They did't remove all the 'he's and him's'," Gibbes said, "Greek and Hebrew scholars on the committee took every masculine term and dealt with it word by word. They studied the passage in which it appeared in the original language to see if it was correctly translated into English. If the Translation was sexist, they tried to replace it with an appropriate term, which wasn't always easy to find."
The Revised Standard Version Bible, first published in 1952 under council auspices, has become the only totally ecumenical version of the Scripture, widely used by Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox. Its New Testament, first published in 1946, has been revised several times since. But a second edition of its Old Testament, first published in 1952, hasn't appeared yet.
Gibbes said scholars hope to complete the second edition of the Old Testament by the mid-1980s, but it was uncertain whether the deadline would be met.
She said the scholars were well into their research when the sexist language issue was raised in the mid 1970s, forcing them in many instances to go back over their work and look specifically for such references.