In part of the prep/background for it, I've been reading about the period between the close of the Old Testament cannon and the opening of the New Testament, a period of about 400 years. I'll probably write more about it next week, but this is an amazing, fascinating time in history, ironically taking place during a period of biblical silence. The world during the time of Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah is dramatically different from the one of Jesus, Peter and Paul. During this time lived Ptolemy, Antiochus, Judah Maccabees and Alexander the Great.
I'm a confessed history geek (my current read is Five Cities that Ruled the World) and so am drawn to such things, but if you like history at all, look into this period.