What are the oldest known Christian texts that are not part of scripture, or considered apocryphal text? I'd be interested in brief details of any texts which may aid in our understanding of the New Testament, including their history and where I could potentially find translations of those early texts in English.
I am personally interested in trying to dig a little deeper into the details of the lives of the very-early Christian church. I imagine there have to have been at least a few manuscripts that have been discovered that were either early theological texts from local pastors of the first century, letters amongst Christians about life within Christendom or letters regarding very-early Christian political structure.
In essence, I want to clarify my reading of scripture by better understanding the people to whom scripture was directly written. I ask because I'd like to build a better mental context of who the "average" people of the early church were, based off of early, non-biblical Christian writing.
Such details help to clarify and understand the writings of the New Testament and are useful as they provide additional context as we seek to interpret the biblical text.