The Law! What is it, and where does it get its authority? Because someone with a crown and scepter has commanded it? Because a council has adopted it? Because a judge has upheld it?
Or is law “law” because a Higher Authority has ordained it so? The Laws of Nature? And of Nature’s God? Do “echoes of Eden” remain, faintly reminding us of an Original Plan?
What is the Common Law? When did it begin? Is it relevant or binding today?
And what of the Laws of the ancient Hebrews—an irrelevant footnote, or the cornerstone of all true Law?
With unparalleled scope and minute detail, Historical &Theological Foundations of Law studies the legal systems of ancient societies all across the earth, explores their common threads and differences, and traces their development through history, and notes common trends that should cause hope or alarm today.
Embark with us on a journey to discover the earliest origins of Law.
Volume I - Ancient Wisdom
In Book One, The Foundation, we explore the laws of ancient civilizations: Egyptian stability, Babylon precision, Persian enlightenment, Indian philosophy, Chinese Taoism/Buddhism/Confucianism, Polynesian kapu, Incan absolutism and efficiency, Mayan oligarchy, Aztec judicial independence, Cheyenne volunteerism, and the Iroquois Confederacy’s sage balancing of power.
What trends do we see? Polytheism to monotheism, or monotheism to polytheism? Decentralization, or centralization of power? Fewer laws, or more laws? Gentleness, or brutality?
In Book Two, The Cornerstone, we focus upon a unique people who, many believe, have influenced the world more than any other. In a canon of thirty-nine books, the Hebrews have given us the Tanakh (Old Testament). How did the Hebrew constitution function, and upon what precepts was it based? How did the Hebrew laws and institutions change over the centuries? Are the Ten Commandments truly the foundation of Western Law?
Volume II - Classical and Medieval
Book Three, The Structure, examines Greece and Rome. Hailed as the birthplace of democracy, the Athenian system was unstable, inefficient, and short-lived. Nevertheless, Plato laid a philosophical basis for natural law, and Aristotle provided a foundation for justice.
Rome had a genius for law and organization, but the constitutional constraints of the Republic gradually gave way to the Empire. But the followers of Christ, once a persecuted minority, came to rule the Empire and put a Christian stamp on Roman law.
Book Four, The Centerpiece, begins with the Dark Ages — the darkness of the womb, out of which was born the Common Law. From the Celtic mists, with the Druids and their brehon lawyers, St. Patrick and the Senchus Mor, the Anglo-Saxons in the forests of Germany with their witans and juries which they brought to Britain, Alfred the Great who began his Book of Dooms with the Ten Commandments, to the Norman Conquest and the warfare between the centralizing Norman kings and their opponents, the precepts and institutions of the Common Law took form.
Volume III - Reformation and Colonial
Book Five, The Pinnacle, examines the Lutheran and Calvinist Reformations, whereby the doctrines of justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers led to republican concepts of government by consent of the governed, social contract, God-given rights, and justified resistance against tyranny. Constitutional jurists such as Selden, Milton, Coke, Althusius, Grotius, Locke, Montesquieu, and Blackstone fused biblical theology with the Common Law.
But to take root and grow, the Common Law needed fresh soil. In Book Six, The Beacon, Anglicans established the Common Law in Jamestown and the Southern Colonies, Puritans in the New England colonies, Presbyterians, Quakers, Catholics, and others in the Middle Colonies. In 1776 they took the ultimate republican step of declaring independence. When, in 1787, fifty-five delegates gathered in Independence Hall to draft a Constitution, they did not write on a blank slate. Rather, they were prepared with thousands of years of “echoes of Eden,” Holy Writ, and the Common Law. The event, Washington said, was “in the hands of God.”
About the Author: John Eidsmoe brings to this study the combined disciplines of the soldier, jurist, theologian, and historian. A retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and a Colonel in the Alabama State Defense Force, Eidsmoe is an Adjunct Professor for the Oak Brook College of Law & Government Policy, for the Handong International Law School in South Korea, and for the Institute of Lutheran Theology.
Specifications: Three Volumes/Hardback (Sold as a Set Only)
Posted by Dr. Jacqueline Kuchta on 6th Feb 2013
This is a set of books that I believe should be read by everyone and used as textbooks not just in law school but in all schools. We need to know where our laws originate. I purchased them to read and use while researching my second doctorate in Biblical Jurisprudence. They are an invaluable resource to me.
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