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So you want to really understand the New Testament?

Notions Incognito
The list author says: "In the same way as you know when the picture through a camera lens has come into focus, these books have helped the NT come into focus clearly for me. They are not a complete list by any means, but I think they are a good starting point. They, among others, are why I currently understand Jesus and early Christianity as follows:

The Gospels reveal Jesus to be a prophet, teacher and leader approved by God to bring social, cultural, economic, and religious reform, to bring people into the kind of life that God intended. This activity for the sake of the poor, marginalised, oppressed and underprivileged brought him into conflict with the authorities who benefited from the status quo, and they eventually killed him for it. Jesus' began a movement, though, which did not die. His resurrection sparked it back to life, as God proved that Jesus' teaching and vision were right, and that he was righteous.

Jesus' early followers understood that God would also consider them righteous also if they repented and faithfully followed him. They understood that by being committed to living in the way Jesus taught and exemplified, they too could expect a positive judgment by God and a resurrection to life. They imitated Jesus as his followers, morally transformed through his example, teachings, and Spirit.

God had graciously saved them from sin and wrong ways through Jesus, and set them free to live righteously, enlightened and empowered by Jesus and the Spirit he gave them. The early Christian writers used a number of metaphors to relate these concepts, and his death signified their new life following him in a way God desired.

One final note, I also recommend using good bible study software. E-sword and the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer are both excellent, which are both free and can be easily found online."
Moral Transformation: The Original Christian Paradigm of Salvation
Moral Transformation: The Original Christian Paradigm of Salvation
"Well-researched, heavily referenced, and very thought-provoking. This book is the only one I know to present this compelling interpretation of the New Testament. It is massive in scope, covering a full range of topics. After reading this book, you'll understand the New Testament a great deal more."
Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture
Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture
"1st century socio-cultural context: This is a classic book and an excellent introduction to this field."
The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology 3rd edition
The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology 3rd edition
"1st century socio-cultural context: Another classic, it covers some of the same ground as Desilva's book but includes some additional material."
Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God: A Ministry of Liberation
Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God: A Ministry of Liberation
"Understanding what Jesus did: A definitive study of Jesus and his ministry, this is a must-read."
Message and the Kingdom
Message and the Kingdom
"Understanding what Jesus did: Horsley offers a similar perspective to Herzog, and is also well-worth reading."
Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder
Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder
"Understanding what Jesus did: This short book highlights some of the political dimensions of Jesus' movement."
Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus
Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus
"Understanding what Jesus did: I have not yet read this more recent book by Herzog, but I'll probably forget to update this list when I do."
Jesus the Prophet: His Vision of the Kingdom on Earth
Jesus the Prophet: His Vision of the Kingdom on Earth
"Understanding what Jesus did: Another good study of Jesus' ministry."
Jesus Before Christianity
Jesus Before Christianity
"Accessible reading: This small book is less scholarly, and might be good for people wanting a more accessible introduction to Jesus' ministry."
Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion
Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion
"Understanding the NT letters: No student of the NT should leave this ground-breaking book unread, as it was pivotal in the development of modern NT understanding."
Paul on the Cross: Reconstructing the Apostle's Story of Redemption
Paul on the Cross: Reconstructing the Apostle's Story of Redemption
"Understanding the NT letters: This is an interesting and well-written book that links Jesus' ministry with Paul's writings."
Judgment & Justification In Early Judaism And The Apostle Paul
Judgment & Justification In Early Judaism And The Apostle Paul
"Understanding the NT letters: This is a controversial book, but well-worth reading."
A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews, and Gentiles
A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews, and Gentiles
"Understanding the NT letters: What I found most helpful in this book was how Greek and Roman ideas help understand Paul's writings."
Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus
Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus
"Atonement: Patterson provides a good discussion of atonement in this short but well thought-out book."
Problems With Atonement: The Origins of, and Controversy about, the Atonement Doctrine
Problems With Atonement: The Origins of, and Controversy about, the Atonement Doctrine
"Atonement: Finlan has combined extensive study on sacrificial, cultural and historical themes with careful insight into atonement theories in this great little book, which is a shorter and easier to read version of his previous work on atonement."
Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament & Contemporary Contexts
Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament & Contemporary Contexts
"Atonement: Less scholarly, but still and interesting read on atonement."
The idea of atonement in Christian theology (Bampton lectures)
The idea of atonement in Christian theology (Bampton lectures)
"Atonement: This one's hard to find, but certainly worth a read if you can find it."
One Jesus, Many Christs : How Jesus Inspired Not One True Christianity, but Many
One Jesus, Many Christs : How Jesus Inspired Not One True Christianity, but Many
"1st century Socio-cultural context: The reason I recommend this book is it is one of the few that provides such a good overview of ancient concepts of divinity. It provides some interesting ideas."
The Lost Message of Jesus
The Lost Message of Jesus
"Accessible reading: This is not a scholarly book, but captures some of the problems with modern presentations of the gospel."
The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything
The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything
"Accessible reading: Another popular book for the masses, this one draws many ideas from recent scholarship into a very readable, challenging application of Jesus' message."
Apostolic Fathers, The: Greek Texts and English Translations
Apostolic Fathers, The: Greek Texts and English Translations
"Apostolic Father's writings: These are also available on-line, but it's nice to have the Greek text."