Thursday, July 27


New Theology of the Body Translation

I had heard that this was coming out, but didn't realize it would be here so soon. The new critical translation, by Prof. Michael Waldstein, formerly of Notre Dame, goes back to a Polish edition for John Paul II's original system of headings and subheadings, as well as six catecheses that were found in the Polish edition, but not in previous English ones.

The problems of the previous translation are detailed in the press release:

Soon after each catechesis was delivered, it was sent to the English editorial office of L'Osservatore Romano to be translated by whoever was on duty at the time.

Because they were dealing with individual catechesis, the result was inadvertent omissions, intentional edits, and many inconsistencies. For example, the key concept "spousal meaning of the body" is translated in eight different ways! Subsequent translators could not go back to change earlier text, because it had already been published.

Therefore, existing English translations of the catecheses were simply a compilation of these (slightly errant) Osservatore transcripts. Theologically true and pedagogically helpful, nevertheless they lacked the coherence originally conceived by John Paul II.

Another translation problem, apparently, is that several different words in the original are all translated as "lust," when "concupiscence" or other similar words would be more appropriate. It will be interesting to see if this new translation, through such corrections, helps to establish a closer link between John Paul II and the broader theological tradition.

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