This book represents a return on my part to a subject that has absorbed much of my interest for the past twenty years, but its chronological approach makes it different from my earlier publications, and I hope that it offers fresh insights. It is written at a relatively popular level, and I have deliberately kept footnotes and bibliography to a bare minimum. I have, however, drawn extensively and gratefully on the ideas and insights of other scholars, and readers are referred to my earlier publications for full supporting bibliography.
I would like to thank all of those who have helped with the production of this book, particularly the staff and students of Wycliffe Hall, the former for allowing me sabbatical leave to write it and for their encouragement, the latter for sitting through lectures and tutorials in which various of the ideas have taken shape and been tried out. Various students read the manuscript: Mark Michael's comments were especially useful. I am grateful to the publishers SPCK and Eerdmans for taking the book on. And as always, I am particularly indebted to my wife Clare for her love and support and to my wider family, including Alan and Simon and my mother-in-law Joan Wilson.
I have enjoyed being part of the ministry team in a group of rural parishes near Oxford over the past seven years. I have among other things tried to make Jesus and Paul come alive through my teaching and preaching, and I hope this book, though addressing academic questions, will also help serve that purpose.