John Bowker and a team of contributing scholars have done a fine job with this heavyweight guide to the Bible. Written for adults, it's nonetheless packed with Dorling Kindersley's usual high-quality photographs and illustrations. Broader in sympathy, and generally more neutral in approach to its subject than volumes such as The Lion Handbook to the Bible, it's a very in-depth look at the individual books that comprise the Jewish and Christian scriptures, as well as themes and cultural background. It also has helpful additional material that enhances understanding, for example on Egyptian folklore (essential background to parts of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament), the nature of Canaanite religion, crime and punishment in the ancient world, kingship and warfare. There are good sections, too, on the apocrypha. Sensitive in approach to issues of religious exclusivism, it uses an analysis of the book of Jonah to give a balanced discussion of universalism and particularism in the context of the Hebrew Bible's understanding of Israel as God's covenant people.
The New Testament section has some very good material on the Roman empire and broader Hellenistic cultural background, as well as on how the concept of a Messiah was understood. One weakness is that it offers little discussion of the theological significance of the crucifixion or resurrection (for example, differing theories of what the death of Jesus meant), and little on the variety of contemporary approaches to New Testament interpretation. However, it's otherwise commendably thorough, though probably not for the absolute beginner.