I was reading and thinking about the Beatitudes this morning and considering that they should really be translated something like the following, so that they have, so to speak, an “exclusive” tone and connotation:

Blessed are those men who are poor in spirit: they are the men to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.
Blessed are those men who mourn: these are the men who will receive consolation.
Blessed are those men who are meek: these are the men who will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those men who hunger and thirst for righteousness: these are the men who will be satisfied.
Blessed are those men who show mercy: these are the men to whom mercy will be shown.
Blessed are those men who are pure in heart: these are the men who will see God.
Blessed are those men who instill peace: the title, “Sons of God,” will be given to these men.
Blessed are those men who are persecuted for the sake of justice: they are the men to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.

I don’t mean so much the admittedly heavy-handed inclusion in this translation of the pronoun, “men.”  True enough, in Greek, Christ uses these masculine pronouns and articles– and his words would have been heard as applying in the first instance to the adult men who were listening (after all, the crowds that listened to him were counted  in relation to how many adult men were present). However, of course, by extension and participation, his words would have been naturally taken to apply to everyone else.  (One might call this an “extended” use of the masculine forms, rather than, as is often said, an “inclusive” use.)   It is still possible, I think, to say and to hear the masculine forms with that kind of extended meaning today. However, if this way of speaking is offensive to you, then, more conservatively, simply change the above as is usual to “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit: they are the ones to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs” etc.  And that would be a simpler and more elegant rendering as well.

But by “exclusive” I rather mean that the Beatitudes seem to be stated in such a way that they give not only sufficient but also necessary conditions for happiness.  What Christ seems to be saying is not simply “If you are poor in spirit, you are and will be happy” but additionally “Only those who are poor in spirit are and will be happy.”  This meaning, I believe, is connoted by the emphasis implied by the inclusion of the pronoun:

μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται.

μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν.

Now if one goes to a website which allows for the comparative study of multiple translations (for example, here), one finds that only the translators of the International Standard Version have accepted this point.  For example:

Douay-Rheims Bible
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.

International Standard Version (©2012)
How blessed are those who mourn, because it is they who will be comforted!

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

What is the significance of this?  The obvious ascetical one, that the Beatitudes are not simply pronouncing a blessing upon persons who already are of a certain type, and live in a certain way, but also setting a condition and criterion, and urging those who do not yet meet that condition to do so, while they can — “aim to become included in that group.”  Arguably, it is a lot less easy to read the Beatitudes with syrupy sweet feelings when one reads them in this somewhat bracing way.