After I paid the bills today, I went to National Bookstore to look at the discounted books. While looking through the shelves, I chanced upon The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd ed New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha. Although I did not intend to buy anything, I couldn't resist: it was marked down to half the original price; Amazon you was selling it for $39 while the copy I found was priced at $20. (It's still expensive if I take into account my meager salary but I have no other vices anyway) And so I bought it.
I'm very pleased with it because of the explanatory essays; among the topics discussed are textual criticism and how scholars decide which of reading to choose from the variety available in the original manuscripts. There are also essays on the historical background of the Bible as well as essays on the interpretation of the Bible.
One of the most important characteristics of a good scholarly bible is a set of footnotes containing variant readings; since the various manuscripts that were used as the basis of the translation often do not agree, it is always a good idea to show the variants. It is also more honest; one of the bad things about unfootnoted bibles is the tendency by readers to believe that there are no errors in transmission. Here, the Oxford Annotated Bible does not disappoint.
What convinced me to buy the book was the presence of the Apocrypha. The books Esdras 1 and 2, The Prayer of Mannaseh, Psalm 151, and 3- 4 Maccabees are present in the Orthodox canon but absent in the Catholic canon. So far, this Bible is the only one I own with these books included. At last, I can now satisfy my curiosity on what these books contain.