I honestly can't believe i'm the first one to write a review.
So i want to first clarify what this is; Open Yale is a group of full lecture courses available for free on iTunes. They are meant to help educate those who cannot afford university. New Testament History and Literature is one of those lecture series. The book is adapted from the lectures, but the lecturer and author decided to make his book much more comprehensive than the lectures, which were done assuming the student had read class material before hand. That's why buy this book makes sense.
After following Professor Martin's interesting lectures on video (an OpenYale course on the web), I assumed this book would be a transcription of those lectures. I was wrong: it is totally rewritten. Fortunately, it follows the lectures' sequence and succeeds in keeping the immediacy of the video lectures. Dale Martin's style and historical-critical approach (what the Bible and other Christian literature meant to the people at the time) make this book very readable. For those interested in the history of that crucial period of humanity -the hundred and fifty years after the birth of Jesus, when the mixture of Greek culture, Judaism, and the beginning of Christianity determined to a great length our Western culture- this is the book to read. (Bart Ehrman's 'The New Testament' has a similar orientation and is also very commendable.)
I bought this book after viewing the course online. There was so much information in the videos that I wanted to have it in print for future reference. It is strictly about the history of the Bible and its origins, and not about the meaning of scripture. Being familiar with the New Testament through the church liturgy, I was curious about the authors of the gospels - who they were and what their qualifications were to write what they did. The lectures and the book present information from Biblical scholars about the authorship of the gospels, as well as the relevance of the gospels to the times in which they were written. It was interesting to learn that there were many diverse beliefs about Jesus and his teaching for several centuries after his death and that, even today, not all Bibles contain the same books for the same reason.