The best Christian books on making sense of the New Testament

Craig L. Blomberg Author Of Making Sense of the New Testament
By Craig L. Blomberg

Who am I?

I have just retired after teaching 35 years in the New Testament department at Denver Seminary. I have authored, co-authored, or co-edited thirty books related to New Testament studies and more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles or chapters in multi-author books. I have learned that most of the reasons people don’t believe in part or all of the Bible is because they don’t understand it properly, so my passion is to try to rectify that. The New Testament changed my life for the better, as it has hundreds of millions of other people. I just want to help that number continue to grow.


I wrote...

Making Sense of the New Testament

By Craig L. Blomberg,

Book cover of Making Sense of the New Testament

What is my book about?

Can I believe the contents of the Christian New Testament or is it just religious fiction? A careful historical analysis yields a resounding affirmation of reliability. Wasn’t St. Paul rather than Jesus the real founder of the Christian religion? No, despite superficial differences, there is a lot in common between the teachings of these two men. If I do believe in the New Testament and want to apply it to my life, what do I do? Realize that it is made up of all kinds of overall genres and embedded literary and rhetorical forms. Each has some special keys to its interpretation and application. This book is short, to the point, has stayed in print, and has been translated widely.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians

By N. T. Wright, Michael F. Bird,

Book cover of The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians

Why this book?

A one-stop shopping introductory textbook that covers every angle. I use it for MA students who can only take one semester of New Testament studies, but it is designed for upper-division undergraduates as well. This multi-color work is filled with stunning photography, helpful charts and diagrams, fascinating sidebars, goals for reading each chapter and questions for review. Oxford-based Wright may be the world’s leading New Testament scholar and Bird is a prolific Australian with a great sense of humor. Both are good friends and Christians with integrity.

The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians

By N. T. Wright, Michael F. Bird,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The New Testament in Its World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This workbook accompanies The New Testament in Its World by N. T. Wright and Michael F. Bird. Following the textbook's structure, it offers assessment questions, exercises, and activities designed to support the students' learning experience. Reinforcing the teaching in the textbook, this workbook will not only help to enhance their understanding of the New Testament books as historical, literary, and social phenomena located in the world of early Christianity, but also guide them to think like a first-century believer while reading the text responsibly for today.


Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels

By Craig S. Keener,

Book cover of Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels

Why this book?

Keener is one of the few living scholars who has actually read cover-to-cover all of the most relevant Jewish and Greco-Roman background literature to the New Testament and can speak with authority about the way the Gospels are similar to and different from other ancient biographies and histories. He addresses virtually every skeptical question, is abreast of all the scholarly trends, including those that get little press because they actually support the reliability of the Gospels. But he is no fundamentalist, insisting that we evaluate the ancient books of Scriptures by the standards of writing of their day and not ours. A soft-spoken man, who has overcome personal tragedy more than once, Keener is a good friend and amazing Christian gentleman.

Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels

By Craig S. Keener,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Christobiography as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Demonstrates the reliability of the canonical gospels by exploring the genre of ancient biography

The canonical gospels are ancient biographies, narratives of Jesus’s life. The authors of these gospels were intentional in how they handled historical information and sources.

Building on recent work in the study of ancient biographies, Craig Keener argues that the writers of the canonical gospels followed the literary practices of other biographers in their day. In Christobiography he explores the character of ancient biography and urges students and scholars to appreciate the gospel writers’ method and degree of accuracy in recounting the ministry of Jesus. Keener’s…


Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?

By David Wenham,

Book cover of Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?

Why this book?

Nothing has superseded this in the twenty-seven years since it was published. Wenham has spent his entire career returning again and again to the issue of Jesus and Paul, showing that despite many superficial differences, the core messages of these two crucial figures at the beginning of Christianity mesh well with each other. It contains discussions as well of all the places where Paul actually quotes or alludes to Jesus’ teaching, though many scholars have not always recognized these. Despite frequent claims to the contrary, Paul is most decidedly not the true founder of Christianity but a faithful follower of Jesus. Now retired, Wenham has been a great encouragement to me at key stages of my scholarly career.

Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?

By David Wenham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a broad, popular look at the relationship between Paul and Jesus. Wenham studies the Gospels and Paul's letters, systematically compares the teachings of Jesus and Paul, and reveals the intriguing connections and differences between the two. His conclusions make this volume a ground-breaking work with exciting implications.


Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

By Mark D. Roberts,

Book cover of Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

Why this book?

Written at a much more basic level than the first three books on my list, Roberts boils the issues down into easy-to-read, bite-size chunks that any thoughtful layperson can digest. After my own book on the historical reliability of the Gospels, it’s the next one I would hand to anyone ‘off the street’ and the first one I would give to someone ‘on the street’! Mark is an apologist with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, who has remained a person of impeccable integrity during their recent rough waters. While many writers tackle Matthew, Mark and Luke together, because they are more similar than different, Roberts includes John, who is more different than similar. A great read.

Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

By Mark D. Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Attacks on the historical reliability of the Gospels-especially their portrayal of Jesus Christ-are nothing new. But are these attacks legitimate? Is there reason to doubt the accuracy of the Gospels? By examining and refuting some of the most common criticisms of the Gospels, author Mark D. Roberts explains why we can indeed trust the Gospels, nearly two millennia after they were written. Lay readers and scholars alike will benefit from this accessible book, and will walk away confident in the reliability of the Gospels.


Taking the Guesswork Out of Applying the Bible

By Jack Kuhatschek,

Book cover of Taking the Guesswork Out of Applying the Bible

Why this book?

The most practical book I’ve ever encountered for applying the Old Testament in the New Testament age and for dealing with culturally foreign parts of the New Testament as well. Outlines a process for extracting timeless principles from culture-specific passages and then finding equally concrete contemporary applications, even if we might not literally ‘greet one another with a holy kiss’! Jack was an editor with three major Christian publishers, a personal encouragement when I was writing my commentary on 1 Corinthians and his approach was the most influential resource I had when I was writing on application for my co-authored Introduction to Biblical Interpretation.

Taking the Guesswork Out of Applying the Bible

By Jack Kuhatschek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Taking the Guesswork Out of Applying the Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New Softbound--Never Read


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in New Testament, Jesus, and Christianity?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about New Testament, Jesus, and Christianity.

New Testament Explore 33 books about New Testament
Jesus Explore 135 books about Jesus
Christianity Explore 414 books about Christianity

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Shadow of the Galilean, The Lost Letters of Pergamum, and Priscilla if you like this list.