From the Preface to the 1st edition:
James Denney’s purpose in The Death of Christ “was to explain, in the light of modern historical study, the place held by the death of Christ in the New Testament, and the interpretation put upon it by the apostolic writers.
In its motive, the work was as much evangelical as theological. Assuming that the New Testament presents us with what must be in some sense the norm of Christianity, the writer was convinced that the death of Christ has not, in the common Christian mind, the place to which its centrality in the New Testament entitles it. It gets less than its due both in ordinary preaching and in ordinary theology. It is not too much to say that there are many indications of aversion to the New Testament presentation of it, and that there are large numbers of people, and even of preachers, whose chief embarrassment in handling the New Testament is that they cannot adjust their minds to its pronouncements on this subject. They are under a constant temptation to evade or to distort what was evidently of critical importance to the first witnesses to the gospel.
It was with this in mind that the writer conducted his study of the subject, and while claiming to be impartial and scientific in his treatment of New Testament documents and ideas, he nowhere affected an insensibility he did not feel. He was and remains convinced that the New Testament presents us with a view of Christ’s death which is consistent with itself, true to the whole being and relations of God and man as these have been affected by sin, and vital to Christian religion; and that on the discovery and appreciation of this — or if we prefer it so, on the rediscovery and fresh appreciation of it — the future and the power of Christianity depend. Without it we can have no renewal of Christian life and no large or deep restoration of Christian thought.”