Westlaw Digest, known to all American law students and often imitated by other publishers of court opinions, consists of keynotes, which are succinct statements of the legal rules stated in court opinions, which are then arraigned according to an outline of topics. The entries of this blog are similar, but in addition to the author's formulation of a legal rule, I have included the Scriptural reasoning that the author uses to support the legal rule. This makes many of these blog entries longer than the Westlaw keynotes. Westlaw keynotes are kept to one sentence, but my digest entries can include several sentences and even paragraphs. I try to condense the reasoning and rule as much as possible. I cut out all the illustrations, historical background, etc. that authors often include with an argument about what the Biblical rule is. I don't include any arguments that do not reference a specific passage of Scripture, unless a specific passage can reasonably be inferred from what the author says. For example, if someone says that such and such is what God requires because of Jesus' teaching about the Good Samaritan, I will include that argument and cite the Scripture passage in brackets where the story of the Good Samaritan is found. See this entry from Hillary Clinton. (Scripture references in the original text are placed in parentheses.) But if they say that "anyone who believes this behavior is acceptable hasn't read their Bible" I won't include it. There is no specific Scriptural reference, either explicit or implicit.
I have used the Blogger "labels" to create topics life the Westlaw system, but I have created my own outline. (The Westlaw outline is copyrighted.) Like Westlaw Digest, a digest entry can be classified under more than topic.
This digest is only a digest of Biblical civil law - not what the Bible teaches about rules for the family, church, individuals, economists, historians, etc. unless it relates to the State. For example, I don't include arguments about what the Bible says about gluttony, unless someone were to appeal to what the Bible says about gluttony to justify something like a "Twinky tax." By "civil" I mean simply "relating to the State," the "civil government," as in the "civics class" you may have had to take in high school. I am not contrasting "civil" with "criminal" law. Civil here includes criminal law as well. The digest includes laws by which the State is to be administered as well as laws that it should enforce.
I include civil laws even if the author and everyone else believes that the law has expired. I include Scripturally specific arguments for why a specific law from the Old Testament still applies under the New Testament era, but I do not include general arguments about how the continuing validity of Old Testament law is supposed to be determined. It has to apply to a specific law that applies to the State.
As to my criteria for including authors, published books and articles are my highest priority. I stay away from discussion boards, blogs, chatrooms, and news reports. I might make an exception for a statement of a well-known person because it can be very influential and reveal what the ruling class of our age thinks about Biblical law. I include websites that include articles that seem fairly permanent and present a well-thought out case.
This blog is broadly ecumenical in the sense that I don't exclude anyone based on their religious beliefs. Authors can be atheist, pantheist, or animist. Everyone appeals to the Bible to justify their sense of justice when it suits them, it seems, as G.I. Williamson has observed. But the blog is evangelical Protestant, or one might even say Puritan, in the sense that only opinions that give chapter and verse from the Bible to support why the State should enforce a particular law are included. I am a Christian Reconstructionist and Theonomist, which has been referred to as a neo-Puritan school of thought; and this blog is an expression of that school of thought.
If anyone wants to contribute to the project, I welcome their help. You can email your digest entries to me, but I need the original emailed to me as well so I can verify accuracy. The form of my citations follows (with possible slight variations) the Pracitioner's Notes of The Bluebook from Harvard Law Review Association, so try to follow that form the best you can when you submit a digest entry.
Please remember that a digest entry is not a quote from the author. It is like a Cliffs Notes version. It is the digester's restatement and interpretation of the the original author. I include a hyperlink to the author's original words whenever possible. The digest is not supposed to eliminate the need to read an author's original words. I generally make an author more understandable by updating archaic language and condensing into a few sentences an argument that spans several pages because of the extra-Scriptural comments that the author has interjected into the discussion. But in my zeal to condense I could distort. If you find that a digest entry arouses your interest, go to the original source to make sure that you understand the author correctly.