Reviews

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, by Fleming Rutledge

timhoiland's review

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5.0

This Lent I am reading The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge. I've still got 400 pages to go, but the word that keeps coming to mind is magnificent.

Rutledge covers a lot of ground here and I won't attempt to summarize it. Instead I'll give you this statement that haunts me: “Religious people want visionary experiences and spiritual uplift; secular people want proofs, arguments, demonstrations, philosophy, science. The striking fact is that neither one of these groups wants to hear about the cross.”

And this, from an extended, impassioned critique of gnosticism (“far and away the most pervasive and popular rival to Christianity”): “The concept of redemptive suffering in the world, so central to the theologia crucis, is foreign to gnosticism, which, though it often recommends acts of mercy along the spiritual path, places little value on suffering for the sake of the world. Since gnosticism considers material reality unspiritual, conduct in the world cannot be at the ethical center, as it is in Christianity.”

And, last but not least, this invigorating good news: “Christians do not simply look to the cross of Christ with prayerful reverence. We are set in motion by its power, energized by it, upheld by it, guaranteed by it, secured by it for the promised future because it is the power of the creating Word that 'gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist' (Rom. 4:17).”

ivantable's review against another edition

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5.0

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.

the_dragon_starback's review

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emotional hopeful informative lighthearted reflective

5.0

I finally finished it and it was incredible and the best book of my year. 

marystevens's review

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5.0

This was recommended by the TwoFeministsAnnotateThrBible podcast. It’s an encyclopedic treatment of the theology of the crucifixion. I picked it up because I never really understood it. I have a much clearer understanding now but I can’t say I really, really get it. It was slow going. And it was useful to have a Bible handy. I think the intended audience is clergy and well read lay people. That doesn’t include me. But all that said, I really recommend it if you’re interested. Her explanations are really clear, it’s well-written and it’s very well organized. She’s an Episcopal priest, one of the first women to be ordained.

stevied's review

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challenging informative inspiring reflective slow-paced

4.0

milkbadger's review against another edition

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For unknown masochistic reasons, I committed myself to reading this book cover to cover. It took over two years, I think. I did let myself off the hook a little by deciding to skip all of the voluminous footnotes, but it was a slog even so.

The book covers a staggering quantity of theological treatments of the crucifixion event throughout the ages, and I don't and won't remember most of the perspectives that I encountered in the six hundred pages of text. But if I had to pick a single presentation that I thought was the most important to carry forward in Christian tradition, I would go with Karl Barth, or at least, the version of Barth that Rutledge presents in the book. In my estimation, Barth possesses a gift for telling the story of salvation and drawing connections in such a way as to make them seem ordinary and simple but also surprising and eye-opening at the same time.

justjohnson93's review against another edition

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5.0

A top 3-5 theological book I have ever read, easily. Mrs. Rutledge is one of my favorite authors, as some of her other written works and her regular tweeting habits (even as an 83 year old woman) have truly blessed, enriched, and deepened my Christian faith. This 600+ page study of the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is the apex of a lifetime of pastoral ministry and scholarship, and it's nearly perfect in my assessment. I read this alongside another 20-something CoC minister friend, and we were both so grateful for Mrs. Rutledge's ministry of study that is a gift to all ages of Christians in every stream of the Church.

"All the manifold biblical images with their richness, complexity, and depth come together as one to say this: 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 Sin; the disobedience of Adam is recapitulated in the obedience of Christ; a new creation is coming into being; those who put their trust in Christ are incorporated into his life; the kingdoms of the 'present evil age' are passing away and the promised kingdom of God is manifest not in triumphalist crusades, but in the cruciform witness of the Church."

nate_s's review against another edition

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5.0

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!

jeremymdoan's review

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5.0

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 Rutledge) am I able to see the whole picture, able to see connections I never knew existed, able to more fully appreciate the depth and breadth of the Church's witness regarding the cross. Very, very grateful for this book.

eaclapp41's review

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5.0

I mean... what more is there to say? All the superlatives you hear about this book are true. As a pastor, it will change my preaching. As a follower of Jesus, it has enriched my faith during this season of Lent.

I wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone looking for a comprehensive and faithful examination of everything to do with how God is at work in the cross.