New Testament scholar Warren Carter’s latest publication is in the Cascade Companions series, Jesus and the Empire of God: Reading the Gospels in the Roman Empire. This 200-page book distills Carter’s career long work on reading the New Testament in the Roman world. In terms of method, Carter especially utilizes what he calls “cultural intertextuality,” reading the Gospels in relationship to various ancient texts of the Roman world. Carter spends time examining the Gospels as an (adapted) form of Greco-Roman biography. He also walks through key features of the Gospels and their portrayals of Jesus, noting what would have been expected in G-R biographies, and then how the Gospels sometimes align with them, but often deviate in ways that provoke and confound.
In many ways, this is a kind of “Crash-course” in contextualizing the Gospels. I would be interested in using this as a textbook with my seminary students. It is light on footnotes and written for the non-specialist.