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The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ

4.59  ·  Rating details ·  489 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Though the apostle Paul boldly proclaimed “Christ crucified” as the heart of the gospel, Fleming Rutledge notes that preaching about the cross of Christ is remarkably neglected in most churches today. In this book Rutledge addresses the issues and controversies that have caused pastors to speak of the cross only in the most general, bland terms, precluding a full underst
Hardcover, 696 pages
Published November 23rd 2015 by Eerdmans (first published November 13th 2015)
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Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the book. Block out days or weeks in your reading plans, open your Bible and this volume, and endeavor to grasp the scope and the depths of God's gift in Christ.

Rutledge writes with the clarifying analysis of a scholar and the lyrical power of a lifelong preacher, and the headlines of history are never far from her hand. I found her style irresistible.

She openhandedly allows the many biblical and theological motifs of the meaning of the cross to interact and interpret one another: passov
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Summary: A study of the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus including the biblical motifs that have been used to express that meaning.

It is striking to consider how relatively few books in recent Christian publishing deeply explore the meaning of the death of Christ by crucifixion, particularly considering that the death and the resurrection are central to Christian proclamation. Fleming Rutledge's The Crucifixion goes a long way to remedying this deficit.

This is a large book, but I would encour
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the second theology book that pushed me to tears this year (the first being David Bentley Hart's The Hidden and the Manifest). Why tears? The picture Rutledge paints of who God is and what God has done in Jesus is simply beautiful and amazing. I've been a Christian my whole life and nearing age 40, I feel like I am just beginning to understand how beautiful and amazing the love is.

First though, a negative. In the beginning of the book, Rutledge discusses the awfulness of the crucifixion.
Cole Brown
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to write a thoughtful review, but I fear I am incapable. The truth is I'm confused and don't know what to think.

As I read the book I found myself at various points weeping and literally shouting out with joy while at other points I found myself incredibly frustrated. The weeping and joy was the result of the extreme-close up that the author gives us of the crucifixion in beautiful language. The frustration resulted from my feeling that the author often spend dozens of pages claiming to a
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're my friend on Facebook, you know that I've been posting quotes and passages from Fleming Rutledge since early March, when I began this 600+ page tome in preparation for the Easter season. This theological text immerses the reader in a theology of the cross that contradicts a lot of easy, safe readings of the crucifixion in our churches and our culture. While it's theologically dense and rich (with fully engrossing footnotes on every page, I might add), Rutledge keeps it all very accessi ...more
Luke Evans
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, theology
Well, this was a great book. It has been a while since I read anything that was at the same time so insightful and true in its distillation of what the gospel is all about and so infuriating in the things it missed.

Rutledge is a great author who writes with clarity and passion. I deeply appreciate one of her primary insights - that the cross of Jesus has a multifaceted meaning in the NT. Each element of the meaning of the cross should be appreciated and appropriated into our larger theological g
Glenn Crouch
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - in fact more than I expected. Given that this is a scholarly book and I hadn't read anything by this Author (though I had heard a podcast of a couple of her talks), I was pleasantly surprised by how easy I found this to read, and how inspiring I found many of the Authors arguments.

Whilst I have many different understandings than the Author, these were normally in side issues - and didn't affect her passion for the Gospel. I found her argument for Justice to be qu
Scriptor Ignotus
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge

It may not often occur to those raised in the Christian faith how peculiar it is that an image of a tortured man hanging on a cross has become the world’s most ubiquitous symbol of religious piety. If one approaches religion as an anthropologist would—that is, if one views religion as a system of belief and practice designed to produce social cohesion and psychological comfort—it becomes baffling to consider that more than a billion followers of perhaps the mo
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“All for sin could not atone, thou must save, and thou alone.” This is what is happening on Golgotha. All the manifold biblical images with their richness, complexity, and depth come together as one to say: the righteousness of God is revealed in the cross of Christ. The ‘precious blood’ of the Son of God is the perfect sacrifice for sin; the ransom is paid to deliver the captives; the gates of hell are stormed; the Red Sea is crossed and the enemy drowned; God’s judgment has been executed upon ...more
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the most impactful books I've ever read. It changed the way I look at the cross, what it means for us and what happened on it. It changed the way I think about theology, how it works and what it can do for us. It changed the way I look at Scripture, realizing how much more we can see when we see Scripture as a work of literature. I feel like my whole life I was looking at all these things through a pinhole, and only now (because of the amazing imagination and faithfulness of Rutled ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ll start with a caveat: I’m not giving this book five stars because I agree with every last word; there are a few implications that I’m still wrestling with. Rather, I give it five stars because it bears such beautiful, rich testimony to what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do. And, because it’s given me a million new ways to think about the Cross as both history and symbol. And, because it picks up on so much of the Bible’s poetry, tying together themes and motifs that illuminate the centr ...more
Apr 25, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
One doesn't read this book as much as study it. At 660 pages, perhaps that's why I've been "currently reading" it for years and stopping to think, pray and consult other sources along the way. The questions at the heart of Christianity come alive here. Rutledge explores a spectrum of theories about how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ "works" for our salvation. Don't expect simple answers, as the Church universal has never settled on one explanation.
As with the best scholarly works, in
Joel Wentz
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are a theologically-inclined person AT ALL, then you must put this at the top of your reading list. Seriously. It's that good, and that important.

"Crucifixion" is almost a systematic theology in the guise of a book about a single historical event. Rutledge leaves no stone unturned in a brilliant and thorough effort to explore every implication of the idea that God was crucified on the cross of Christ. Her writing is powerful and deeply learned, but never difficult. Her perspective is gene
Ian Caveny
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, masterworks
Suffice to say, my only decent response upon completing this magisterial (but certainly not austere!) monograph is to commend it for reading, immersion, digestion, meditation, contemplation, and consideration. By investigating the images (not theories of the crucifixion of Christ and the nature of His atoning work in context with those images, Rev. Fleming Rutledge has provided for the Church a powerful, prophetic reminder of the supernatural and glorious work of our God.

Beyond that paltry (and
Nathaniel Spencer
Home run after home run.

Can't recommend it highly enough. Especially to those dissatisfied with the accounts of Christianity, viz. atonement, given by both standard evangelicalism and liberal/mainline theology.

I had my breath taken away at several moments. Rutledge is dialed in, y'all. May her kind increase.

P.S. Holy footnotes, Batman! The book is at least 50% longer than it looks because of all the fine print!
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
so many thoughts on this book. i think i maybe understood 25% of what she was talking about. but in that 25% i had 137 highlights😬 this book changed my perspective on sin and increased my understanding and appreciation of the goodness of the gospel, specifically in christ’s work on the cross. it’s not for the faint of heart but i would highly recommend it. also i would highly recommend reading the footnotes as well which means that it will take forever as it did me. it was a slow read but totall ...more
Kevin Wojciechowski
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Definitely a good resource to have on hand. Although there are certain things I wouldn’t agree with from her Anglican perspective or on more speculative matters, overall this is a phenomenal theological presentation on the suffering and death of Christ. Of particular value is her extensive treatment on Sin and Death as cosmological Powers/Kingdoms/Dominions and Christ’s Paschal Mystery being a triumph over those Powers/Kingdoms.
Here is a review by Bishop Robert Barron:
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the book I've read in the past three years which is most likely to affect my theology and speaking going forward. Recommended to anyone with a bit of background in theology who is involved in communication about the Christian faith to others inside or outside the church.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't want to add to much to the high praises, but I will say that part one, exploring the physical and social aspects of the crucifixion, as well as the chapter on the descent into Hell were well alone worth the price of the book.
Mike Print
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can't review this book better than Andrew Wilson does here: ...more
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The center of Christianity is the cross. But how are we to understand the crucifixion? How is it that in the death of Christ we find salvation, forgiveness, new creation, justice, victory over the powers, and hope for the future? And why in particular was such a gruesome, publicly humiliating execution required?

Following decades of preaching Good Friday sermons, Fleming Rutledge has set herself the task of providing what she sees as the first substantive book on the cross for pastors since John
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Crucifixion is enormously helpful and thought-provoking but also enormously difficult to read - a rare book that I think all Christians would profit from that is also not easy to get through. It's what I would consider an exhaustive study on the meaning of the crucifixion of Christ. That comprehensiveness is, in my view, one of its weaknesses - it attempts to be so thorough that at times it becomes difficult to even follow Rutledge's train of thought. When the book moved to a discussion of t ...more
Sooho Lee
**I wish I could give it 6 stars out of 5.

This book is phenomenal. There have been very few books that I have come across where from cover to cover it has been rejuvenating, refreshing, and powerful. Despite being one of the most elusive doctrines, Fleming Rutledge has produced a masterpiece on atonement. Formerly, Rutledge has worked on this manuscript for 18 years, but really it is the fruit of a life-long wrestle with the cross of the Crucified Lord. And though some might withhold enthusiasm
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fleming Rutledge puts her decades of theological study into this incredibly beautiful book. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you press on you’ll be rewarded. It walks a line between a layman’s and a theologian’s text— she is deeply pastoral. She avoids being too academic, continuing to define the same Greek words throughout the book because, no, I did not write down the definition the first time. This is a deeply Trinitarian book: many of the tensions that seem to plague progressive theo ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book'll preach.

Rutledge's religion-shattering focus on the dehumanizing death of Jesus for the rectification of the ungodly and the disarming of the powers of Satan, Sin, and Death is needed in this sentimental age filled with gnostic spirituality.

Most importantly, her rehearsing of the gospel message is desperately needed for broken people like me.

She is just to the left of me theologically, but there is such wonderful insight and power in these 600 pages that the interpretive places I d
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
After nearly three years, it is finished. I feasted on this book, devouring a lifetime of biblical and theological reflections on the work of Christ. I don’t always agree with Rutledge, but in substance and form (even her footnotes contain worlds of insight), she provoked me to praise. This is theological writing at its best, connecting the world of the Bible with our own modern reality in seamless fashion.
Chris Rousell
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A majestic work of true excellence. A 'should read' for all Christians regardless of denominational inclination; a 'must read' for all preachers, particularly those who see the cross of Christ solely through the lens of penal substitutionary atonement.

Rutledge highlights and expounds the numerous motifs that Scripture uses in discussions on the significance and purpose of the crucifixion of Jesus in a work of theological, literary, and pastoral brilliance.
Colin Fast
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Certainly covers a lot of ground, and topics largely ignored or shunned (satisfaction, substitution, wrath, blood sacrifice). Many theological assumptions and questionable theological takes aside, worthwhile read which helps focus on the centrality of the crucifixion.
Sam McCabe
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most all encompassing, well written, thoughtful books I've ever read. Anyone who is serious about studying the Cross would find this book invaluable. Highly recommend.
Spencer Cummins
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books on the crucifixion. Fleming writes with wisdom and packs a punch while being faithful to the biblical portrait in the New Testament.
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