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The New Testament writings are the foundation documents of early Christianity, and to fully understand them readers need a broad historical awareness of the wider social, economic, political and religious context that produced them. Here, Telford paints a fascinating portrait of the Roman and Hellenistic Empires and the growth of the early church, elucidating the composition and content of the Synoptic Gospels those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Furnishing the reader with an appreciation of the methods contemporary scholars apply to the Gospels, he also offers an assured, in-depth guide to the texts themselves. Punctuated by charts and tables and unlike other introductions for the general reader, this richly contextualized and accessible narrative is an invaluable starting point for anyone looking to understand the Gospels and the roots of Christianity.