National church council cautiously sets out to produce 'nonsexist' Bible

Moving cautiously but aiming far, the National Council of Churches has set out to produce a "nonsexist" translation of the Bible. The church council's Division of Education and Ministry (DEM) will begin with passages used by churches that follow the lectionary system of designated selections for reading Sunday by Sunday.

At a meeting here, the committee of denominational representatives overseeing the DEM work instructed its executive committee to appoint a translation task force and establish procedures for it. Chairman Howard Ham, an executive of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in nashville, said the task force would be named at the executive committee meeting in February.

DEM committee members suggested that passages for the first year of a three-year cycle might be ready by Advent 1983. But they declined to project plans for a complete Bible until they get reactions to trial use to the lectionary cycle.

The DEM, which owns the copyright to the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, voted that the task force would use it as a basis for the new translation, allowing the task force to focus on points of specific concern.

Meanwhile, an existing translation committee is working on a new edition of the RSV that will introduce some changes, such as altering the initial words of Psalm 1 from "Blessed is the man" to "Blessed are those."

However, this committee, headed by Princeton Seminary Prof. Bruce Metzger, has resisted pressures for more far-reaching innovations, such as modifying references to God as "Father." Its operating rules give it editorial autonomy.

Eugene Brand, a Lutheran executive who headed the group drawing up the proposals for action, said the new task force would use "more latitude" in revising language about both God and human beings. But DEM committee members made it clear they did not favor radical departures from the original Hebrew and Greek texts.

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