The title Doom Book (originally dom-boc or dom-boke) comes from d?m (pronounced "dome") which is the Anglo-Saxon word meaning judgment or law — as in Alfred's admonishment to "Doom very evenly! Do not doom one doom to the rich; another to the poor! Nor doom one doom to your friend; another to your foe!" This reflects Mosaic Law, which says "You shall do no injustice in judgment! You shall not be partial to the poor; nor defer to the great! But you are to judge your neighbour fairly!" (Leviticus 19:15).
The Christian theologian F. N. Lee extensively documented Alfred the Great's work of collecting the law codes from the three Christian Saxon kingdoms and compiling them into his Doom Book. Lee details how Alfred incorporated the principles of the Mosaic law into his Code, and how this Code of Alfred became the foundation for the Common Law.
In the book's extensive prologue, Alfred summarises the Mosaic and Christian codes. Dr Michael Treschow, UBC Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, reviewed how Alfred laid the foundation for the Spirit of Mercy in his code, stating that the last section of the Prologue not only describes "a tradition of Christian law from which the law code draws but also it grounds secular law upon Scripture, especially upon the principle of mercy".
The law code contains some laws that may seem bizarre by modern standards, such as: "If a man unintentionally kills another man by letting a tree fall on him, the tree shall be given to the kinsmen of the slain."
Editions and translations
Liebermann, F. (ed.), Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, 3 vols (Halle a. S.: Niemeyer, 1903-16) (still the definitive critical edition)
Alfred; Turk, Milton Haight (Editor) (1973). The Legal Code of Alfred the Great. Ams Pr Inc. ISBN0-404-56546-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
Alfred; Turk, Milton Haight (Editor) (2004). The Legal Code of Ælfred the Great. Lawbook Exchange. ISBN1-58477-392-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge (trans.), Alfred the Great: Asser's 'Life of King Alfred' and Other Contemporary Sources (London: Penguin, 1983), pp. 163-70 (translated extracts)
Todd Preston, King Alfred's Book of Laws: A Study of the Domboc and Its Influence on English Identity, With a Complete translation (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012), pp. 105-48 (diplomatic text and translation based on Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 173)