For some time now, I've been telling my classes that the ESV is possibly the best formal equivalence translation of the New Testament out there right now, but that I refused to buy one because I had it on Logos and didn't like the politics of why it was created. Today, after actually finally breaking down and committing to buying a copy, I suddenly found myself disavowing my confidence in its literality.
I've never claimed it was the most literal OT translation. It often confuses Christian readings with most likely readings, like when it goes with the OT manuscripts from 900AD over the Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint from 100BC: it can bring itself to go with the most likely translation of Deuteronomy 32:8--that the Most High divided up humankind according to the number of the gods, not the Sons of Israel. So I guess I'm sticking with the NRSV as the best formal translation of the OT, although it can also be dynamic at times.
But yesterday we came across this ESV translation of Romans 11:25-26, "a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved." A good formal equivalence translation would read something like, "And so all Israel will be saved." It seems to me that the ESV goes beyond a literal reading and inserts a replacement theology--the fullness of the Gentiles coming in = all Israel being saved.
Throughout the passage I found many points where the ESV was less than helpful in doing detailed observations on this passage. So I'm done with the ESV before I began. I'm back to the drawing board with no favorite formal equivalence translation of the New Testament. Maybe I'll end up with the NASB again.