Recommended Reading on Social Context
Since I keep running into internet posts recommending this book at the moment, I think I will join the club:
Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture
by David DeSilva, 2000
Of all the books on the social, and cultural background to the NT I have read, this one is probably the best overall. What it lacks in detail and scope it makes up for in readability - many of the works written in this field are very academic, but this work is not too technical and should be easy enough for the non-academics to follow.
It is hardly possible to stress enough the importance of social context studies when it comes to researching and understanding the New Testament. It is important that there be good introductions to such an essential area of study, and this book serves that function well. Hence I, like every other man and his dog on the internet at the moment, recommend this book.