Symposium on Bible Translations (NIV, ESV, HCSB)

from Professor David Croteau:

I’ve been posting some things on Bible translations on my blog:

1) Doug Moo (NIV), Wayne Grudem (ESV), and Ray Clendenen (HCSB) video’s from Liberty University’s Biblical Studies Symposium on Bible Translations.

2) A 34-part blog series comparing six major Bible translations using a methodology of my mentor, Andreas Kostenberger, in The Challenge of Bible Translation.
Part 1
Part 2
– When part 34 is done (November 5th) I plan on posting the whole thing as a document.

Also, a book from B&H will come from this, with chapters from the three above plus Philip Comfort. Kostenberger and I are editing it.


David Croteau
Associate Professor of Biblical Studies
School of Religion, Liberty University

Layers of language and translation

Linguistics is a great thing to study! Anyone who has done a bit of formal study of linguistics will know that it has many sub-fields such as phonology, syntax, morphology, semantics and pragmatics. In this post we’re going to dig down through the layers and see how focusing on each layer results in significantly different translations. For this we’re going to use the following verse as an example:

Matthew 26:33: ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· εἰ πάντες σκανδαλισθήσονται ἐν σοί, ἐγὼ οὐδέποτε σκανδαλισθήσομαι.
NLT: Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”

Each layer is a little further from the source, a little more abstract and a little (or a lot) harder to study. But I hope you’ll see that the deeper you go the more potential there is for exciting and powerful translations!

Phonology is the study of sound in language. There is of course no translation which attempts to fully convey the phonology of its source – such a translation would really be a transliteration instead! Most translations do however transliterate occasionally. Although names, both of people and places, frequently are given a meaning in in the Bible, they are usually transliterated or transferred into the target language. For example Πέτρος /petros/ becomes Peter in most Bibles.

Many translations however also transliterate other words. These transliterated words have become English religious jargon, but in many cases they were regular words in the Hebrew or Greek. Words like apostle, baptise, messiah and sabbath are all basically transliterations. While it might be easiest to stick with tradition and use these words, it is worthwhile considering if they can be translated, and what effect that would have on the translation as a whole.

Morphosyntax, or morphology and syntax, is the study of structure in language, of words and sentences respectively. Translations that focus on morphosyntax will try to mimic the structure of the source text as much as is possible. Our example has two verbs in the main clause, ἀποκριθεὶς and ἀποκριθεὶς, and the strictest mimicking translations will actually include both, such as the NKJV: “Peter answered and said to Him…” Most translations recognise that this phrase is a common idiom and instead just use a single verb in English: for example the ESV has “Peter answered him…”

A better example is found in the next phrase, for which the ESV has “Though they all fall away because of you…” Some verbs must always have a preposition, as David Ker recently discussed. These are sometimes given the technical name of bipartite verbs, i.e. two-part verbs. The phrase looked over has a unique meaning which look by itself does not have – essentially it is a distinct verb. I suspect that σκανδαλισθήσονται ἐν is similar. Translations which are attempting to mimic the source’s morphosyntax will translate this phrase with a verb and a preposition, as the ESV did, with “fall away / because”. Okay, that’s really a three part verb! Other translations however might treat the Greek verb as a unit, and replace it with whatever conveys the meaning of the whole unit best. That may also be a multi-part verb, or it might be a single word. This is what the NLT does, which translates it as desert.

A morphosyntax-mimicking translation might be written by using the same types of clauses and phrases as the source, representing them as is natural for the target language. The most extreme mimicking translations however also attempt to mimic the source’s word order of regardless of whether that is the target language’s normal way of representing those structures. To me this seems especially ironic considering that both Hebrew and Greek have a significantly free word order, and so any significant word orders will be for reasons other than syntax!

Semantics is the study of meaning! To some extent I covered this in the previous section, as most translations which don’t focus on conveying morphosyntax instead focus on conveying semantics. So semantic translations are free to pick whichever words and sentences they need to most closely translate the meaning of the source, regardless of whether the structures are similar or not.

Each of these layers we’ve been digging through is more abstract, and so translations that focus on lower layers are harder to produce. Sometimes there is significant ambiguity, or even if the source is understood clearly, the target language’s culture may think about some issues in a very different way. One further example from our verse is the noun πάντες, which has the basic meaning of all. There are though a great many ways in which it has been translated, some of which are all, all men, or everyone. A semantics-sensitive translation will ask what was implied in the source language, and what will be inferred from the translation, and if they do not match up the translation will need to be edited further.

Pragmatics is the study of language in context. This is necessarily more abstract than the other layers we’ve covered as we have a far from complete knowledge of the context in which the Bible was written. As the focus of pragmatics is context, a big part of it is studying language as whole texts or conversations, rather than as individual sentences or words. Mike looked at some interesting contextual issues in Matthew recently.

One thing that comes under pragmatics is the intent of a text’s author. Everything ever said or written has been said or written with some purpose. Parts of the Bible have been written to encourage and to rebuke, to excite the readers and to express deep grief. I suspect that The Message as a translation aims to convey these author intentions as its highest priority, even if that means that the individual semantics of a sentence must be changed. Sometimes I think it does this very effectively, but at others times I think the intentions it conveys have been too strongly tainted by speculation. While The Message is an interesting experiment and other translation teams would be wise to study it, I personally don’t think that intentions should be ranked over semantics for most general purpose translations. These translations will remain a niche item.

Another aspect of pragmatics is to do with information. The study of information structure looks at how language is used to mediate between the different collections of knowledge we all have. One significant concept is that of focus, which is used to bring to the forefront something which the speaker thinks their listeners do not know. In Biblical Greek pronouns, like ἐγὼ “I”, are frequently optional, and using them adds emphasis. Both οὐδέποτε σκανδαλισθήσομαι and ἐγὼ οὐδέποτε σκανδαλισθήσομαι have the semantic meaning of “I will never desert you,” however the second has a pragmatic focus on the “I”. A translation could even consider printing I in italics in this verse. I’ve only found one translation which seems to convey this emphasis, the ISV: “Even if everyone else turns against you, I certainly won’t!”

Other layers
There are many other layers to language which are rarely considered to much depth for Bible translations. Some of these are the genre of texts, the register of texts (is it high brow or low brow?), the differences between individual authors etc. The list just keeps on going! I believe that the majority of current Bible translations focus on either morphosyntax or semantics. Clearly there is still much room for improvement!

ESV SB Jonah compared with 3 other study Bibles

Gary Zimmerli has just posted a review of Jonah in the ESV Study Bible. Gary uses three other study Bibles and contrasts the ESV SB with them: the NASB John MacArthur Study Bible, the NIV Study Bible, and the new NLT Study Bible.

Gary writes:

The ESV SB is of course a tour de force. It is clearly one of the very finest scholarly study Bibles available. So it was interesting to see how they treated the book of Jonah.

The introduction was, of course, excellent. It was about as detailed an introduction as I’ve ever seen, dealing not only with the author and date of the book, story overview and such, but it also went into the particular literature genre of the book, and talked about that at some length. The introductions to Jonah in the other three SBs were almost as good, but didn’t quite get into as much detail.

Although Gary praises the ESB SB, he says this of the ESV translation itself:

The ESV text, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired, in my opinion. And those of you who know me know that I’m not particularly fond of the ESV. It’s so full of archaic words and phrases, and so full of awkward word order; and the vocabulary is so archaic. You really have to do your mental calisthenics and jump through a lot of hoops. Reading the ESV can be a tiring experience, even exhausting. I don’t find it pleasant at all.

Gary ended his post:

The ESV Study Bible is just the right thing for a lot of folks. But I don’t think it will be for me. Even so, I will be recommending it.

Constructive feedback for the ESV team

Ray McCalla at Sinaiticus likes the ESV:

When I first read the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible back in 2003, I immediately fell in love with it.

Ray has just blogged with some constructive criticism for the ESV. He hopes that the ESV team might accept his input. It helps when criticism comes from ESV friends. Ray prefaces his criticism with:

So I am writing a blog post to offer some constructive feedback to the ESV translation team, hoping to improve the clarity and accuracy of the English in the ESV.  Let me be clear: my motivation is love; I want to help make a good Bible translation even better, for God’s glory and for (English-speaking) humanity’s edification.

Ray asked that I consider linking to his blog post and I am happy to do so. Thanks, Ray, for thinking of BBB and thank you, also, for your constructive feedback of the increasingly popular ESV. I will also add Ray’s critique to my own webpage of ESV Links.

Bible publishing

The task of Bible translation is not complete until the translation is published so it can be used by others. I suspect that all of us would agree. And I suspect that most, if not all, of us share the same essential meaning for what “published” means in that first sentence.

This last Sunday, however, I heard a usage of “published” which struck me as odd English, something that we would not actually say. It was read from Isaiah 52:7 during the church service:

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news (tidings: RSV),
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (ESV)

As some recent posts on this blog have emphasized, a translation should not be difficult to understand because it uses odd English. A translation may be difficult to understand because it is translation of a difficult idea. But there is no instrinsic reason why we need to express difficult ideas using difficult words. And there is no instrinsic idea why we need to express non-complex ideas using English wordings which none of us would ever normally say or write.

If we use odd English in a translation, we run the risk of distorting the biblical meaning and/or obscuring it from translation readers. I have no idea what it means to “publish peace” or “publish salvation.” I would need a Bible teacher familiar with the original Hebrew to explain what these English words are supposed to mean. But it would take less time if the translation used standard English words to express that same idea. Let’s keep our Bible teachers for the jobs we really need them for, to explain difficult concepts and help us apply them to our lives. Their job should not be to explain odd words in English Bibles.

The Hebrew ideas behind the words “publishes peace” and “publishes salvation” are not difficult. There are a variety of ways they can be translated to English, some using words that we would all agree are in common usage, while others are not.

How would you re-translate the odd English phrases “publishes peace” and “publishes salvation” to more standard English?

comparing the five leading versions

ESV Blog has just posted a chart comparing the five leading versions. Here it is:

Note that none of the versions listed as being “word-for-word” are, in fact, word-for-word translations. A truly word-for-word translation would be an interlinear translation. Each of the versions listed in the chart changes word order from the original biblical texts, as well as making other changes to try to make the translation more usable by English readers. I think what the ESV folks actually mean when they say “word-for-word” is:

  1. There is greater concordance of words within the KJV, NKJV, and ESV than within the NIV or NLT.
  2. There is a higher degree of formal equivalence within the KJV, NKJV, and ESV than within the NIV or NLT.
  3. There is an attempt to translate each word of the original biblical text with some word or words in English.

There is no word-for-word English Bible version published today. Such a translation would essentially not be readable by English speakers, even though it would have English words. For instance, here is a true word-for-word translation of John 3:16:

Thus for he loved the God the world that the son the only/unique he gave so that every the one believing in him not may perish but have life eternal.

As you can see, that actual word-for-word translation does not match, word-for-word, any of the five versions featured in the ESV Blog chart:

For God so loved the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

What differences, if any, do you sense among the five versions in the chart for the translation of John 3:16?

Is the ESV written in beautiful English?

Tim Challies blogs today that the ESV is written in beautiful English. Tim discusses some wordings in the ESV which he considers beautiful:

Let’s begin with 1 Kings 2:2 where King David gives his final wishes to his son Solomon. The ESV renders this “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man.” The other essentially literal translations agree with this translation as the NASB, KJV and NKJV are all very similar. There are two constructs here that I feel are essential to the text. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” and “show yourself a man.”

For this verse Tim concludes:

What is lost in the NLT and the CEV is the metaphor “the way of all the earth.” It is an important term, beautifully poetic, and surely one that is worth some time in meditation. There is a depth of meaning to that phrase that is clearly missing in words like “I will soon die, as everyone must.” Readers of the NLT and CEV have no access to this phrase and miss out on the wonderful opportunity to meditate upon it and learn from it.

Then Tim writes:

Another example comes only one verse later. 1 Kings 2:3 continues David’s instruction to his son. David exhorts Solomon to follow God and “walk in His ways.” The ESV translates the verse as “…and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

For 1 Kings 2:3 Tim concludes:

The term “Walking in his ways” is a wonderful metaphor for living a life that honors God. We seek to emulate Him by following carefully in the footsteps of God. I am reminded of a song by the Smalltown Poets, “Call me Christian,” where they sing, “As a boy I’d put my steps / In my brother’s bigger tracks / To match his stride / And just like that I follow Jesus / Jesus is my guide.” That type of imagery is absent from the New Living Translation as well as the CEV. The Message is quite close and the NIV is, once again, accurate.

Next Tim writes:

Moving along we come to 1 Kings 2:9. David asks Solomon to exact revenge against Shimei, a man who had cursed David. “Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” The metaphorical phrase here is “bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” Again, this is a wonderfully descriptive phrase that has more meaning than simply “kill.” Yet several translations provide only this meaning.

I don’t know what it means to bring someone’s head “down with blood” so I am unable to determine if this Hebraism is beautiful in English. It clearly sounds unusual which is what some people desire in a sacred text in order for it to sound like it is written in sacred language.

Tim ends:

I am grateful that I have access to such a solid translation of Scripture. While I do not know Hebrew, I still have access to an accurate translation of the author’s original words, complete with the phrases, words and metaphors that set one author apart from another. I have access to the full meaning, or as close as I can come without access to the original language, of what was written so long ago. I simply can’t understand how anyone would be satisfied with anything less.

I disagree. I don’t believe that readers of the awkward, obsolete, and often obscure English in the ESV (or any other similarly written translation) have “access to the full meaning”. Instead, they have syntactic transliterations of the original languages, but not the meaning of the wordings in those languages expressed accurately and beautifully using the natural syntax and lexical combinations of English.

I disagreed in a comment on Tim’s post. You can go to his post to read my comment.

What do you think? Can a book (including any English version of the Bible) which is written with many obsolete expressions, unnatural syntax, and other literary problems sound beautiful for current speakers of English? What percentage of native speakers of English will have “access to the full meaning” of the biblical language texts in the English of the ESV?

UPDATE (Feb. 10): John Hobbins and ElShaddai Edwards have continued this discussion on their blogs. I left the following comment on John’s post:

John wrote: I am going the way of all the earth” is a colorful biblical idiom which not by accident occurs as such in only one another passage

John, I agree: it is a colorful biblical (Hebraic) idiom. But what does it mean? I don’t know what it means, so how can it be beautiful? I guess art lovers split on this. I find beauty in realistic and impressionistic art. I do not find beauty in modern art, because I do not understand it.

I totally agree with you that we should not flatten out the literary style of the Bible. But we must never forget that a translation is supposed to communicate the meaning of the biblical texts to native speakers of another language. If we translate so that only people who have specialized knowledge of biblical metaphors and idioms can understand them, then how can we call such a translation beautiful. I would far prefer to call the original biblical texts themselves beautiful. The beauty of their figures of speech is found within their original languages. Figures of speech, for the most part, are language-specific. We can learn to appreciate their beauty by education, footnotes, other Bible resources that explain the meaning of the figures. But the purpose of translation is to enable a speaker of another language to understand the meaning of the biblical text, not to educate someone to the figures of speech uses in those texts. Literal translation of figures of speech and understanding their meaning almost never are compatible. We are trying to ask too much of general audiences if we think they can be served by essentially literal translations. Professional translators are not allowed to obscure meaning by translating figures of speech literally from one language to another. Why should we not hold Bible translators to the same standard of accuracy and excellence in translation?

There is very much a place for idioms and figures of speech in a translation, and it is to use the idioms and figures of speech of the target language, when appropriate, to communicate the meaning of the biblical texts.

Vivid, idiomatic, expressive literary language is beautiful and is recognized as such by literary awards such as the Pulitzer, Nobel Prize for literature.

I agree with Tim and with you that the idioms of the Bible are beautiful. I agree that there is little literary beauty in the CEV. I’m starting to use the NLT more and I’m actually finding more literary beauty in it than I expected. But I will always caution us not to take the advertising claims for translations such as the ESV too seriously when they are called “beautiful” based on having literal translations of figures of speech, if those translations do not accurately communicate their figurative meanings to the audiences for whom a translation is said to be appropriate. (The ESV is published in inexpensive evangelism editions. Sigh!)

Categories: ESV, literary English, Tim Challies

Lunchroom chat and a Woman’s Bible

Last year I mentioned a few conversations I have had at work over lunch. When the chat dies down, I will sometimes just turn to a colleague and ask her what Bible(s) she has used. Since I work in a public school with a staff from a mixed background, Catholic, Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, this can be interesting. So far, I have had some in depth conversations about the Good News Bible, and the King James Version, the only two which seem to be widely recognized.

Today I asked a colleague whom I knew to be an evangelical,

“What Bible do you use in your house church?”

“Oh, we all use something different – I don’t know, well, you know, NRV and The Word.”

I nodded sympathetically and waited.

“By Eugene Peterson.”

“Oh yeah, the Message.”

“Yeah, that’s it. I have a Woman’s Bible, maybe NRV, hmmm, NIV? It has all these little boxes, devotions, for women and all that. Oh, I love it.”

“Not the TNIV?”

“How would I recognize that?”

“Well, if it had brothers and sisters in it.”

“Oh, no, I don’t mind something not being gender inclusive. You know the best Bible for the sheer poetry is the King James Bible. Yes, that is the best.”

And I would have to agree. The King James version offers not only poetry but in places a more literal translation. I still stubbornly hold to the idea that the literal and non-interpretive style of the KJV serves women well. Other literal Bibles are also good for women. I was also familiar with the Young’s literal translation. Maybe it is my familiarity with these translations that makes me so uneasy at some of the Bibles I start out to review here. I am simply taken by surprise!

Here is the question – which modern Bibles are closest to a traditional and literal interpretation for the following verses? I have provided the KJV, Young’s literal version, the Emphasized Bible, Luther Bible, and Latin Vulgate for comparison. Is it just me, or are Bibles in this century more selectively interpretive in these verses.

Rom. 16:1


servant KJV
ministrant YLT
minister EB
im Dienste Luther
in ministerio Latin

Rom. 16:2


succourer KJV
leader YLT
defender EB
Beistand Luther
astitit Latin

Rom. 16:7

ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις

of note among the apostles KJV
Junias – of note among the apostles YLT
Junias – of note among the Apostle EB
Junias – berühmte Apostel Luther
nobiles in Apostolis Latin

1 Cor. 11:10

ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς

have power on her head KJV
[a token of] authority upon the head YLT
to have permission EB
eine Macht auf dem Haupt haben Luther
potestatem habere supra caput Latin

1 Tim. 2:12


to usurp authority KJV
rule YLT
have authority over a man EB
daß sie des Mannes Herr sei Luther
dominari Latin

I don’t think readers realize that when I noticed that the NET notes didn’t mention “leader” for προστάτις, I was genuinely surprised because we used the Young’s Literal Translation as a reference Bible when I was young. Some may talk about my having a “preferred” interpretation but I am displaying legitimate concern when a traditional and literal understanding is not even referenced in notes.

But I want to ask which modern Bible would be a candidate for the most traditional and literal translation with regards to these verses? Which ones are the farthest removed from tradition? I have only checked a handful so far. Believe it or not!


I’m going to score these Bibles out of 4, counting Rom. 16: 1 and 2 together. If we look at the accepted text base and lexicons which are contemporary with these Bibles, they would all score 3 out of 4 for being literal.

Young’s Literal Translation – 2 1/2 out of 4,
Emphasized Bible – 2 out of 4,
King James Version – 3 out 4,
Luther – 2 out of 4,
Vulgate – 3 out of 4

ESV 2001 – 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – patron
Rom.16:7 – well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 – a symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority

TNIV 2001 – 4 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom.16:7 – outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 – have authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 – assume authority

HCSB 1999 – 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom.16:7 – outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 – [a symbol of] authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

NET – 1996 – 2005, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – great help
Rom.16:7 – well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority

NLT 1996 – 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – helpful
Rom.16:7 – respected among
1 Cor. 11:10 – wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

CEV 1995 – 3 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – leader
Rom. 16:2 – respected leader
Rom.16:7 – Junias (male) highly respected by
1 Cor. 11:10 – sign of her authority
1 Tim. 2:12 – tell men what to do

NRSV – 1989, 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom. 16:7 – prominent among
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority over a man

NIV – 1978 – 1984, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – great help
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority over a man

NASB – 1960 – 1995, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – helper
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority over a man

RSV 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deaconess
Rom. 16:2 – helper
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – veil on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

ISV – 2003 – 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – has assisted
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority


Rom. 16:1 – in the ministry
Rom. 16:2 – has assisted
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – a power over her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – use authority over the man

Matt. 22:16 – Does God care for no one?

In Matt. 22:16 the Pharisees sent emissaries to Jesus to ask about paying taxes to Caesar. They began by saying:

Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any [man]: for thou regardest not the person of men. (KJV)

Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. (RSV)

I have boldfaced the wordings I am concerned about in this post. The KJV and RSV use some meaning sense of the word “care” which I am unfamiliar with. I am not even able to find it in my dictionary.

Someone reading either of these wordings could get the idea that God doesn’t care for people. And yet most of us know, at least cognitively, that he actually does. Some of us have memorized that great verse, 1 Peter 5:7:

Casting all your care upon him [God]; for he careth for you. (KJV)

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. (RSV)

1 Peter 5:7 makes it clear that God does care for us. So, I assume, that the word “care” is used with a different intended meaning in Matt. 22:16 from its use in 1 Peter 5:7 in the KJV and RSV.

The ESV only mildly revises wordings of the RSV which do not have to do with removing perceived liberal biases in the RSV. But Matt. 22:16 is one place where the ESV makes ordinary good literary revision of the RSV:

Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

The ESV retains the word “care” but it now has a meaning which all English speakers today know. Notice also that the ESV increases the accuracy of the RSV: the ESV has “anyone” instead of RSV “man.” “No man” is no longer an accurate translation of the Greek indefinite pronoun oudenos for most English speakers.