Well, you asked for it: The Historical Jesus:The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant by John Dominic Crossan (see particularly the detailed discussion of dates in this volume). The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus by John Dominic Crossan Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright Jesus and the Victory of God by N.T. Wright The Aims of Jesus by Ben F. Meyer Critical Realism and the New Testament by Ben F. Meyer Paul and Palestinian Judaism by E.P. Sanders How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? by Larry Hurtado Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity by Larry Hurtado Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary by Marcus Borg I certainly don't agree with all of these authors, but if you looked into at least some of these works, it would give you an idea of what the historical study of Jesus, the Gospels, and Paul is truly like right now. I don't think the list is too biased; not all of the writers are Christians, and they are all serious historians. Your idea of the 'canon' being formed is a little off. The first official (anything like government) pronouncement of the canon was in the Council of Trent (C16). The fact is that the Christian community held the books that are in that canon to be authoritative long before any official pronouncement.