New translation of John Paul II's "Theology of the Body"
Q: What is the necessity of publishing a new translation of John Paul II's theology of the body?
Waldstein: There are many problems in the existing translation. For example, the key concept "significato sponsale del corpo" -- spousal meaning of the body -- which John Paul II uses 117 times, is translated in eight different ways. The reason is easy to understand.
On any given Wednesday when John Paul II delivered one of the catecheses at the general audience, the Italian text was sent over to L'Osservatore Romano and whoever was on duty at the English desk translated it. The translators did not have the work as a whole before them, but they translated each catechesis individually. These various inconsistencies indicate that there were several translators.
Later translators could not go back and change the translation, because it had already been published. The edition by Pauline Books and Media is simply a compilation of these translations.
And so there is a need for a systematic translation that considers the work as a whole to make decisions about particular terms in light of the whole.
I began to retranslate passages that I needed for the book about the theology of the body I have been working on for the past five years. At a certain point the decision to translate the whole text became the logical next step, so I contacted Pauline Books and Media.
It seemed a providential moment, because the Daughters of St. Paul had become increasingly aware of the need for a new translation and were praying that God would show them some way to produce it.
It has been both wonderful and fun to work with them. They are professional and animated by a strong love for John Paul II.
There is a second reason why we need a new edition. It is even more important.
The current translation does not contain John Paul II's own headings. Just imagine reading a complex work like Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" with all the headings gone. You would get lost like someone in the fog. You wouldn't know where you are or where you are going. The headings help to organize the work as a whole.