Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Theonomic Roots of English Common Law

Francis Nigel Lee's "King Alfred the Great and Our Common Law" demonstrates that English Common Law has theonomic roots.

(Disclaimer: we reject Nigel Lee's somewhat 
kinist leanings)

Some excerpts:

"Yet, in so adapting, King Alfred clearly preserves and enforces within English Common Law the general equity of those Old-Israelitic judicial laws.

"To prove this — just compare the statements of Mosaic Law with Alfred's Anglo-British Common Law and also with the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Larger Catechism. For the New Testament itself — at Matthew 5:5-21f & First Timothy 5:17-21 etc., presupposes inter alia Exodus 20:1 to 23:9f in the Old Testament. Alfred cites Exodus 20:1 to 23:9 — as well as Matthew 5:17-19 & 7:1-12 and Acts 11:19-26f & 15:20-29 & 16:4-5. The Westminster Confession (19:4f) cites Exodus 21:1 to 22:29, as well as Matthew 5:17f and First Corinthians 9:8-10 etc.

"After recording Exodus 20:1 to 23:9, King Alfred declares: "These are judgments which Almighty God Himself spoke to Moses and commanded him to keep. Now, since the Lord's only begotten Son our God and healing [Saviour] Christ has come to Middle Earth [alias the 'Mediterranean World'] — He said that He did not come to break nor to forbid these commandments but to approve them well, and to teach them with all mildheartedness and lowlymindedness." Matthew 5:5-19 cf. the Westminster Confession of Faith 19:5." (p. 7)
Some examples Nigel Lee gives of Alfred's Law Code:
14. "He who smites his father or his mother — shall suffer death!"

15. "He who steals a Freeman and sells him, and it be proved against him, so that he cannot clear himself — let him suffer death!"

16. "If any one smites his neighbour with a stone or with his fist — if he [the one smitten] may go forth, even though only with the help of a staff: get him medicine; and do his work for him, while he himself cannot!" See: Exodus 21:12-16.

17. "He who smites his own bondservant or bondswoman — if he or she does not die the same day but still lives for two or three nights — he is not at all so guilty [of death]:for it was his own chattel. However, if he or she die the same day — put the guilt upon him [the overlord]!" See: Exodus 21:20-21.  (p. 11).
For more specifics of Alfred's law code, see pp. 9-14.
PDF version

HTML version

Nigel Lee's website 

For a much more comprehensive analysis of Common Law
by Lee, see "Common Law: Roots and Fruits"

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