Sometime you should read through the introductory material on different translations. This gives you a feel for the principles of translation. I found what I wanted about this “gender neutral” idea in a section called “To the Reader.”
“During the almost half a century since the publication of the RSV, many in the churches have become sensitive to the danger of linguistic sexism arising from the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender, a bias that in the case of the Bible has often restricted or obscured the meaning of the original text.” p. xii“Linguistic sexism?” Is this an objective measure or a term to come out of a politically correct university office? I don’t think it is a Biblical term. I don’t think it was around a hundred years ago. I will accept that using the masculine “he” in a generic way is a gender bias, but to act like this is some kind of modern weakness in the English language is an intellectual stigmatism. If the same bias did not exist in the original Hebrew then it would not contain the word “ben” which clearly means “son”. You learn that this translation's principles are coming from the sociology department not the theology department.
It is interesting to note that this is a change made in the “New” RSV that was not present in the RSV. It then continues,
“The mandates from the Division specified that, in references to men and women, masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.” p. xiiSo when we are talking about modern times it is a “inherent bias of the English language” but to protect themselves from people who think this is the word of God they will honor the “historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.” Isn’t that an inherent bias of the ancient patriarchal culture? Are they trying to say that the male dominance did not exist?
The slippery slope is hinted at in the final sentence in this paragraph.
“Of course, in narrative and in parable no attempt was made to generalize the sex of individual persons.” p. xiiOf course. Not yet. One of the principles of indoctrination is to make slow incremental changes. How many “new” translations will it be before that happens?
One of the philosophies in the comments is that modern culture is more sensitive to the nuances of gender thus they do away with the masculine. If that is the case then why does the KJV translate "ben" as “children” over a hundred times?
If you are going to write a survey of historical gender roles, go for it. But don’t call it a Bible and don’t call it a translation.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
homo unius libri