One of the most important things to know when studying the bible is context. This book gives you the cultural context in an easy to understand yet very informative format. As a layperson that loves the bible, I recommend this to be along side any study bible. I also recommend this to Pastors and students of the bible. I hope to find a similar book on the OT with the same quality.
This book is an amalgamation of New Testament introduction, survey, and of course backgrounds. The quality of production is excellent with numerous pictures, maps, and diagrams. The text is comprehensive in scope, touching upon most major issues related to the study of the New Testament. But at slightly less than 500 pages, many of the more technical discussions are more introductory than exhaustive. What The New Testament in Antiquity does well is expose the reader to the major issues. In the preface, the authors state four goals which can be summarized as (1) academically rigorous, (2) accessible to students, (3) emphasis on the ancient context of the New Testament, and (4) responsive to confessional commitments of the evangelical tradition. To this end I believe that The New Testament in Antiquity has met its self-imposed goals rather well. Helpful features include questions for discussion and an introductory and advanced bibliography at the end of every chapter.