Few treatments of the death of Jesus Christ have made a point of accounting for the gruesome, degrading, public manner of his death by crucifixion, a mode of execution so loathsome that the ancient Romans never spoke of it in polite society. In this book - twenty years in the making - Fleming Rutledge examines in depth that unique problem at the heart of the Christian gospel. She probes all the various themes and motifs used by the New Testament evangelists and apostolic writers to explain the meaning of the cross of Christ. Referring not only to the classical writings of the church Fathers, the medieval scholastics, and the Reformers but also to the latest scholarship, Rutledge shows how each of the biblical themes contributes to the whole, with the Christus Victor motif and the concept of substitution sharing pride of place along with Irenaeus´s recapitulation model. Widely known for her preaching, Rutledge seeks to help and enrich preachers, teachers, and anyone else interested in what Christians believe to be the central event of world history.