The Assembly. This tract, first published a year earlier and now (1644) in a much expanded form, is addressed to the Assembly of Divines as well as to Parliament. The Assembly was dominated by Presbyterians, Milton's partners in the rhetorical and political battle against prelacy, but these same Presbyterian divines had not received his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce with favor. Some of them accused Milton of advocating "divorce at pleasure" and debauchery. Even while Presbyterians were harshly criticizing him from pulpits all over London, Milton still held out hope of persuading them to his case. He mostly failed to do so.

Parlament. Milton's preferred spelling throughout the pamphlet.

Custome. Arguments against the power of custom in religious and public affairs were commonplace in Protestant and Puritan polemic of the 16th and 17th centuries. Against Roman Catholic appeals to custom and tradition, Puritans typically insisted upon what they considered plain evidence from scripture.

blindnesse. That is, the blindness allegedly a universal consequence of original sin.

evincing. Convincing; see OED2.

Ezekiel. Milton refers to the vision recorded in Ezekiel 2 and 3. Milton personifies "Custome" as a deceitful instructor, and as feminine.

concoction. Digestion.

accorporat. Incorporate; with the (allegorical) suggestion of carnal intercourse.

Serpentine body. Spenser personifies error in a very similar fashion; see The Faerie Queene 1.1.13-24.

her incompleatnesse. Milton is fond of these little allegories. For another interesting example from DDD, see book 1.

humor. Whimsy, that is, behavior that follows the humors (melancholy, sanguine, bilious, choleric) rather than reason.

Truth. Milton personifies Truth frequently. See the famous example from Areopagitica.

seventh Son. Proverbially, one destined for greatness.

Statute. Found in Deuteronomy 24:1, supposed by all biblical scholars of Milton's day to have been written by Moses.

conveyance. Underhanded or shady dealing.

Iosiahs time. See 2 Kings 22 and 23; and 2 Chronicles 34.

arreed. Advise, warn.

boorded. Attacked, upbraided, rudely approached.

Apostle. The Apostle Paul in Phillippians 1:18.

salted, Churcht, Minerva. Milton, deliberately grotesque, mixes the images of ancient Hebrew purification ritual, Catholic and Church of England "churching" of new mothers, and the birth of Minerva from Jupiter's brain.

by-ends. That is, one's own personal goals masked as civic or social goals. Milton, in fact, was prompted to his concern for divorce, and the authoring of four tracts about it, by the departure of Mary Powell, his first wife. She returned to her father's house only a few weeks after her marriage to John Milton.

brood of Belial. For "children of Belial," see Deuteronomy 13:13, and see also Paradise Lost 1.501-502.

megrim. Migraine.

Assyrian blasphemer. Sennecherib, king of Assyria; see 2 Kings 19:22.

exalted perdition. See 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.

indulgences. Milton alludes sneeringly to Papal indulgences and dispensations, often granted to wealthy patrons of the church as were marriage anullments. Luther and other reformers made much of such abuses in their initial reformist zeal against the Roman Catholic Church. See Luther's Disputation on Indulgences (1517).

that Egyptian Colony. Milton refers to the Israelites here with a very odd euphemism. Matthew 19:8 and Mark 10:5 cites their "hardness of heart" as the reason for allowing divorce in the first place.

from. In the Rauner library copy from which this edition was prepared, "rom" has been corrected in ink in a fair hand to "from."

binding and loos'ning. Milton borrows this metaphor from Matthew 16:19 and 18:18.

the Gospel. The relevant passages are Matthew 12:1-14, 15:1-20, 23:1-33; Mark 2:23-3:6, 7:1-23; Luke 6:1-11, 11:37-54.

things indifferent. Things not explicitly prohibited or enjoined by scriptural authority. See the discussion in Yale Prose 2.68-69 ( (Search Dartmouth Library Catalogue.).

St. Paul. 1 Corinthians 16:14.

his Master. That is, Jesus. Milton quotes from Romans 13:10, but also alludes to Jesus's summary of the Law in Matthew 22:37-40.

foure great directors. That is, reason, charity, nature, and good example. Milton makes in brief two very important political points here. First, that tyrants may be resisted even though Scripture does not explicitly say so. Second, that no oath, nor any political institution for that matter, has legitimate power and authority contrary to the ends for which it was administered or instituted.

the Confessor. Edward the Confessor (1002-1066), the last of the Saxon kings before the Norman invasion. He was remembered as a model of piety and justice.

quotationists and common placers. Expositors who rely on literal readings of small bits of scripture lifted out of contexts.

dependencies and independencies. Following the disestablishment of bishops, Parliament argued without successful conclusion about the re-organization of the Church in England. The chief opponents were the Presbyterians, favoring a state church overseen by presbyters and laymen elected to sessions and natioanl assemblies, versus the independents who would have no established state church authority, but every congregation independent. "In what Calends" means "when."

out. In the Rauner library copy from which this edition was prepared, the phrase reads "Doubt not to reach out to your steddy hands"; I have removed what appears to be a supernumerary "to."

jot and tittle. In Matthew 5:18 and Luke 16:17, Jesus uses these words to refer to the smallest minutiae of the law.

Masoreth. From a Hebrew word usually understood as meaning "tradition," a masorah or masoreth was a body of notations compiled by rabbis to help preserve what they determined to be the correct form of the Torah. Milton's point is that Jesus is the most authoritative rabbi and commentator on the Torah.

Synagogue of Ezra. The "Great Synagogue," an assembly of 120 teachers and scholars in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (5th C BCE) who desired to se limits and guidelines to interpretation of the Torah. See Nehemiah 8-10.

Galilean School. Tiberias was a city famous as a center for rabbinic scholarship.

English Constantine. Constantine the Great (288-337) was the first Roman emperor to adopt and promote Christianity, mostly for political and military reasons. Milton and many others mistakenly believed he was born in Britain.

Northumbrian Willibrode. Saint Willibrord (657-738), born in Northumbria, went on a mission of evangelism to Germany and established the first bishopric there.

Winifrede of Devon. Also an 8th-century missionary to Germany.

Alcuin and Wicklef. Alcuin (735-804) was born and educated at York; he played a large part in the revival of learning at the court of Charlemagne. John Wycliffe (1320-1384), one of the earliest forerunners of the reformation, translated the New Testament into English and spawned a reformist following in England and abroad.

defenders of Charity. Henry the 8th, before he broke with Rome, was awarded the title, "Defender of the Faith" by Pope Leo X in 1521 largely as a result of his (probably Thomas More's) pamphlet attacking Martin Luther. Henry and all English monarchs since have retained the title.

System or a Medulla. A compendium, abridgement, or "trot."

blown physiognomy. Swollen face.

what their. These two words were improperly joined in the Rauner library copy from which this edition was prepared.

nameles. Indeed, Milton published the first edition of DDD without putting his name to it, or submitting it to the licenser.