I ran across In Search of Paul, by John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan Reed, in a bookstore last year shortly after it had been released. I finally picked up a copy not long ago and dove in. After finishing it yesterday, I have a new found desire to learn good skimming and speed-reading skills.
I had read and enjoyed the previous book that Crossan and Reed collaborated on — Excavating Jesus. I think the imperial cult, and the Christian response to it, is a fascinating topic, so I was eager to read their treatment of Paul and his opposition to Rome.
Even with an interest in the topic, this book was a labor for me to read. I found the amount of detail to be tedious at times, but there were nuggets here and there that really intrigued — thus the longing for skimming skills.
If you are passionate about understanding or teaching Scriptures within their historical context, this isn’t a bad book to have, but I’d lean toward it as a reference book. Do a basic skim to familiarize yourself with what Scriptures are covered and some of the historical detail, and then keep it on your shelf when it can be of benefit to a study of those particular passages.