In VOLUME I: BEFORE THE MESSIAH, the first order of business is to recreate the milieu into which Christianity was born. We must try to understand the cultures, the religions, the politics, the laws, and the ideas which were current in the last few centuries BC and the first few centuries AD. Without understanding these things, it is impossible to understand Christianity, historically speaking, because the Christians spread their message to specific peoples at specific times and in specific places, speaking and writing in specific languages. They used very well-crafted verbal and artistic images to get their points across and to address the very concrete concerns of their audiences. All these things are what we might call the temporal contingencies of Christianity, things that formatted the Christian message.
The format of the Christian message changed as it moved from the simplicity of the largely Jewish rural Galilee and urban Jerusalem to the complexity of the greater cosmopolitan and largely pagan Greco-Roman world. And it is that Greco-Roman world that we examine in VOLUME I: BEFORE THE MESSIAH.