What was crucifixion? Why was Jesus of Nazareth executed and what really happened? Gerard Sloyan begins with history and traces the development of the New Testament accounts of Jesus' death. He shows how Jesus' death came to be seen as sacrificial and how the evolving understandings of Jesus' death affected those who suffered most from it - the Jews. He then traces the emergence and development - in theology, liturgy, literature, art - of the conviction that Jesus' death was redemptive, as seen both in soteriological theory from Tertullian to Anselm, in the Reformation and modern eras, and in more popular religious responses to the crucifixion. Especially fascinating is the story of the emergence of a distinct "Passion piety" that still characterizes the West. In all this Sloyan detects the separation of the cross from Jesus' life and resurrection, allowing the mythicizing of an event too large for mere words to handle: the mystery of the cross.