A Higher Law: Readings

Jeffrey A. Brauch, A Higher Law: Readings on the Influence of Christian Thought in Anglo-American Law (2nd ed. 2008). xix, 479 pp.

This work, prepared as an introduction to basic principles of legal philosophy and legal history for first-year law students, “encourages students to recognize and seek the biblical foundations of law and legal institutions.” The comments and questions throughout point the reader to major issues and further study. The readings are edited specifically for 1Ls, so it is well suited to the inquiring novice. Its breadth and depth of inquiry, however, give plenty of fodder to the scholar as well. This is a great introduction to the basic issues in biblical integration and a helpful outline of the history of the common law.

Legal History: the first section of this book gives a brief but comprehensive look at the foundation of Anglo-American common law (pp. 1-191). Chapter 1 contains historical examples of higher law thinking from Aquinas, Blackstone, and others (pp. 3-80). Chapter 2 focuses more closely on examples of higher law thinking within the common law itself (pp. 81-127). And Chapter 3 discusses how higher law thinking has been replaced by legal relativism (pp. 129-91).

Criminal Law: the readings on Criminal Law provide a brief, but deep introduction to the major philosophical issues in the criminal law (pp. 195-283). Excerpts from Blackstone, Charles Colson, Judge Nygaard, Jeff Tuomala, C.S. Lewis, and others center on human responsibility, competing theories of punishment, and the nature of the criminal law.

Civil & Criminal Procedure: the section on civil and criminal procedure (pp. 285-316) provides a brief history of a few procedural protections of the common law and the sources from which these protections arose.

International Law: in this collection of essays and excerpts, Dean Brauch includes a chapter discussing preemptive war and the just war theory (pp. 359-82).

Relevance of the Higher Law: Part C of this book, “Current Thinking on How God’s Law Should Affect Man’s Law,” excerpts definitive works from major modern movements (pp. 383-471). The chapter titles in Part C indicate the focus: "What is the Role of the Old Testament Law Today?" and "To What Extent Should Higher Law Be Applied to Modern Society?" This is a fine introduction to the major modern themes in the state, the church, and the law.

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