The New Testament (The Great Courses, Course Number 656)
Lecture 1: The Early Christians and Their Literature
This was an introductory lecture which suggested a few ways to study the New Testament: 1) as a faithful believer; 2) From a cultural perspective (e.g. the NT's influence on Western culture and on literature); and 3) From the historical context of the initial audience. Erhman's course intends on studying the NT from the third perspective.
He gives some background information: there are 27 books in the NT, all written by Christians of the 1st century. Many of these books claim to be written by direct apostles of Jesus (i.e. people who are considered to have been sent directly by Jesus to spread his word). All of the books were originally written in Greek.
The 27 books of the NT comprise 4 major groups. 1) The four Gospels, describing the birth, life, and death of Jesus; 2) The Acts of the Apostles, describing the spread of Christianity around the world; 3) 21 epistles, 13 of which are written by Paul, with a focus on the beliefs and ethics of Christianity; 4) The Book of Revelation, which is a piece of apocalyptic literature, originally thought to have been written by the apostle John, but later revealed to have been written by another John. (The belief that it was written by the apostle is why it attained popularity among early Christians.)
The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, by Bart D. Ehrman - Chapter 1
The New Testament: A Student's Introduction by Steven Harris - Chapters 1 - 3
An Introduction to the New Testament, By Raymond Brown - Chapter 1
The New Testament Canon, by Harry Y Gamble