L. Michael White.
A historical and social introduction to the New Testament, both as a record of the development of the early Christian church, and as a product of that development, by a popular professor of Classics & Christian Origins at the University of Texas. White was the central figure in the very successful 1998 PBS special, "From Jesus to Christ," which remains one of their bestselling videotape series.
This is a comprehensive, contemporary historical introduction to the New Testament writings in context, starting not with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but with the historical Jesus and his world. White begins with the Jesus movement and early collections of Jesus sayings, and then proceeds historically through Paul and the Gospels in the order that they appeared. He then concludes with the great early Christian debates where Jesus was ultimately declared divine, and the official New Testament was selected and edited accordingly, suppressing the role of women, the rich diversity of early Christianity, the Gnostics, and other losers in the ecclesiastical battles. HarperOne (October 25, 2005), English, Paperback: 508 pages.
“A splendid feast of a book, rich with insights from archaeology and cultural history.” (Wayne A. Meeks, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Yale UniversityWayne A. Meeks, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Yale University )
L. Michael White is Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins and the director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of From Jesus to Christianity and has been featured in and co-written two award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries.