Rick Mansfield has made an excellent post on the controversy with the ESV. He makes a number of excellent points, but I’d like to quote one paragraph from near the end:
My contention is not with the ESV. But I do have great problems with the inaccurate rhetoric that I often hear from proponents and endorsers of this translation. I have favorite translations, and I have written about a number of them on this blog. While I talk of their qualities that I like and appropriate uses for them, I go out of my way to try to do so without needlessly putting down other versions of the Bible. I’ve probably been harder on the ESV on this blog than on any translation, but usually it’s been in a context of addressing the audacious and often fallacious claims made for it by ESV supporters. This idea that literalness equals greater accuracy or literalness equals greater faithfulness to the original text is pure nonsense if the rendering is so literal that the author’s intent and meaning is unintelligible to readers and hearers. Antiquated vocabulary and sentence structure do not give a translation greater authority–it merely limits readership in an contemporary setting.
I actually have very little against the ESV. It does have some awkward readings, but none of them are things that make it hard for me to use. I’ve recommended it to pastors who are uncomfortable with some of the gender-accurate (which they will call gender-inclusive) language in the NRSV. It provides an option to avoid the archaic language used in the RSV for prayer, and still keep to that general tradition.
But it is currently being pushed forward by some people almost as a new “one true version” and this is more than questionable, it’s potentially dangerous. I too have my favorite versions, but no single version becomes the standard. The particular reasons used in support of the ESV are often inaccurate as well.