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But books also preserve stories and thus make it possible for later generations of readers to encounter not only a story of a bygone era but also the people who once told and heard it. Now, the reader – not the storyteller – bears the burden.In order to understand the story, the reader must negotiate changes in culture, language, and ideas that come with the passage of time.It is a process of translation from one age to another, from one culture to another, in order to hear the story as once told. The preservation and subsequent history of the book is its own story, apart from the one on its pages, and the reader must encounter this second story – the story of the book – as well.

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What are some of the issues we face in trying to understand the New Testament?

First, because of its composite nature, it cannot be read like a novel, straight through from beginning to end.

In this book, then we shall attempt to examine the various writings of the New Testament and other pieces of the earliest Christian literature in a more or less chronological progression, from earlier to later.

Thus, one of the issue to be discussed at every step is why we should place a particular book of the New Testament at a particular point in time and what other events or writings were happening at that time.

(page 1) The author states well the problem of trying to read the Bible.