Here are a few quick quotes from Fleming Rutledge’s introduction to her much-talked-about recent release, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. (Rutledge was featured on an episode of The Mockingcast–“The Gospel is for Sinners”–a few months back…don’t miss it!)
There have been many famous deaths in world history; we might think of John F. Kennedy, or Marie Antoinette, or Cleopatra, but we do not refer to “the assassination,” “the guillotining,” or “the poisoning.” Such references would be incomprehensible. The use of the term “the crucifixion” for the execution of Jesus shows that it still retains a privileged status. When we speak of “the crucifixion,” even in this secular age, many people will know what is meant. There is something in the strange death of the man identified as Son of God that continues to command special attention. This death, this execution, above and beyond all others, continues to have universal reverberations. Of no other death in human history can this be said. The cross of Jesus stands alone in this regard; it is sui generis…
There has been ceaseless flow of print and talk about the unreliability of the New Testament witness concerning Jesus…Few outside academia would know that the incongruities so frequently cited today as proof of the Bible’s unreliability were noted many centuries ago by such as Origen and Calvin. It seems more than a little disingenuous for skeptical scholars of today to act as though they were the originators of newly minted insights made possible only by their supposed discoveries and intellectual fearlessness. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that those writers who seek to reduce and diminish the figure of Jesus are creating a Jesus to suit their own preferences just as surely as Thomas Jefferson did when he took scissors and paste to the Gospels.
The key to Jesus is now, as it has always been, his crucifixion and resurrection. Nothing whatever is known from first-century extrabiblical sources about Jesus as a historical figure…Any modern reconstruction of the historical Jesus,” therefore, is certain to be a product of the cultural environment that produced it, whereas the Jesus proclaimed as Lord in the New Testament comes closer than any other figure known to human history to being universal, transcending time and historical location, belonging to all cultures and all people everywhere and forever. That is a big claim, but Christians need not be ashamed to stand by it. This proclamation of Jesus as Lord…arose not out of Jesus’ ministry, which after all can be compared to the ministry of other holy men, but out of the unique apostolic kerygma (proclamation) of the crucified and risen One.