The New Testament in Its World—Bird and Wright

The New Testament in Its World—Bird and Wright January 19, 2021

Wright, N.T. and Michael F. Bird. The New Testament in Its World (Zondervan Academic). 992 Pages; List Price, HB $59.99.


Book Description: The New Testament in Its World is your passageway from the twenty-first century to the era of Jesus and the first Christians. A highly-readable, one-volume introduction placing the entire New Testament and early Christianity in its original context, it is the only such work by distinguished scholar and author N. T. (Tom) Wright.

An ideal guide for students, The New Testament in Its World addresses the many difficult questions faced by those studying early Christianity. Both large and small, these questions include:

  • What is the purpose of the New Testament?
  • What was the first-century understanding of the kingdom?
  • What is the real meaning of the resurrection in its original context?
  • What really were the Gospels?
  • Who was Paul and why are his letters so controversial?
  • As twenty-first-century people, how do we recover the excitement of what it was like to live as Christians in the first or second centuries?

In short, The New Testament in Its World brings together decades of ground-breaking research, writing, and teaching into one volume that will open readers’ eyes to the larger world of the New Testament. It presents the New Testament books as historical, literary, and social phenomena located in the world of Second Temple Judaism, amidst Greco-Roman politics and culture, and within early Christianity.

Written for both classroom and personal use, the benefits of The New Testament in Its World include:

  • A distillation of the life work of N. T. Wright on the New Testament with input from Michael Bird
  • Historical context that situates Jesus and the early church within the history, culture, and religion of Second Temple Judaism and the Greco-Roman world
  • Major sections on the historical Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and Paul’s chronology and theology
  • Surveys of each New Testament book that discuss their significance, critical topics like authorship and date, and that provide commentary on contents along with implications for the Christian life
  • Up-to-date discussions of textual criticism and the canonization of the New Testament
  • A concluding chapter dedicated to living the story of the New Testament
  • Available Video and Workbook companion resources to enhance learning and experience the world of the New Testament
  • Illustrated with visually rich pictures, maps, charts, diagrams, and artwork; plentiful sidebars provide additional explanations and insights

From the Author(s): Bird says

New Testament in Its World is designed for students beginning New Testament study with a view to not just informing them about the New Testament but to immerse them in the world of the New Testament and to shape the way that they read the New Testament. It a big book, but very informative, very pictorial with lots of images, charts, and maps, balancing background information with solid commentary. It provides a kind of condensed summary of N.T. Wright’s life’s work, as well as helpful information about the latest trends in New Testament studies.

What’s Distinctive?: Bird says

New Testament in Its World is distinctive in many ways, first, it showcases N.T. Wright’s perspective on Jesus, the resurrection, the apostle Paul, and being a Christian today. Second, we focus on understanding the New Testament as history, literature, and theology. Third, we deal with early Christianity and the New Testament in chronological order. Fourth, we are conscious of asking the question, “So what?” at the end of every book in order to help readers think about how to live out the New Testament’s vision of the Christian life today. Fifth, the volume also has a helpful work-book and well-made DVD companion too.

Nijay’s Notes:

This is an incredible tome: remarkably comprehensive, historically rigorous, with touches of wit and humor and immaculate design and imaging. I consulted on a couple of sections of this book and had very little to add or edit. It is, in my opinion, a “must-have” resource. We can be grateful to Zondervan for making it very affordable. 

About the Author(s): N. T. Wright is the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is the award-winning author of many books, including After You Believe, Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, The Challenge of Jesus, and The Meaning of Jesus (coauthored with Marcus Borg), as well as the series Christian Origins and the Question of God.


Michael F. Bird is Academic Dean and lecturer in theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission, The Saving Righteousness of God, Evangelical Theology, Romans (Story of God Bible Commentary Series), The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus, and editor of The Apostle Paul: Four Views. He also runs a popular theological studies blog called “Euangelion” and can be followed on twitter @mbird12 


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