The Importance of a Comparative Approach to the NT

I started this thread thinking that I would devote it to discussing the changes that I am making in the sixth edition of my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.  But I realized, once I started, that I needed to explain more fully what the textbook was at its inception back in the mid 1990s before talking about changes that I’m making now.  And so my past few posts have been about how I imagined the book to be a distinctively *historical* introduction to the New Testament and about what that actually meant in terms of how I approached the task. One other aspect of this being a historical introduction (as opposed to a theological or principally interpretive or mainly literary introduction) is that I wanted the book to be rigorously comparative in its orientation.   What I mean is this. When people read the New Testament, they naturally assume that it is *one* book.  After all, you buy it as one book.  It has covers.  It has a table [...]