The Cross

By Robin M Jensen, Harvard, £25

The Cross of Jesus Christ, his Passion and death, is at the heart of the Christian faith. The significance of the Cross was made known by Jesus’s glorious Resurrection a mere three days later, and since that momentous day that significance has not been lost for a moment.

Generation after generation, century after century, millennium after millennium, Christians all over the world have lifted the holy wood of the Cross upon which hung our salvation. One way in which the Cross has been venerated has been in all forms of art, every medium, for nearly 2,000 years.

In her new book, Robin Jensen explores in great detail, with academic rigour and a believer’s vigour, the history of the Cross in Christian belief, worship, and art.

In the opening chapter, Jensen reflects on St Paul’s theology of the Cross, and the particular point of significance he sees in it: “What matters is not simply that Jesus died but how he died.” This is where the importance of the Cross came into Christian understanding. It was notable that the Saviour of the world died by way of a painful, humiliating, ignominious means of public execution – all of which was then overcome.

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