The Most Holy Trinity: Communio,Friendship, Family, and Community Life
Foundational Principles of the Theology of the Body
What is the Theology of the Body?
The TOB is a series of 129 Wednesday Audiences given during the first six yearsof his pontificate. He said that it is biblical reflection on the theological meaning of the human body.
When it was originally delivered there were a total of six different intermittenttranslators and the was a lack of consistency in the use of key terms. For example,the pivotal term, “Spousal Meaning of the Body” was translated 7 different ways:nuptial meaning, nuptial significance, matrimonial significance, conjugal meaning,conjugal significance, spousal significance, and finally spousal meaning. Because it was translated piecemeal, week by week, the original titles and structure of the holy father was lost. Michael Waldstein in recent years has published a correctedtranslation in which the original Polish manuscript was consulted and matched along with the official Italian text and because the holy father was still alive at the time, he was personally consulted in the process. The best translation to use is called, “Manand Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” translated by Michael Waldstein that came out in 2006.As we know, a “General Audience” is the genre by which the Insegnamentiseries identifies the regular Wednesday discourses of the sovereign Pontiff. Theseare catecheses, which as Vatican II in Christus Dominus stated, has “pride of place”for a bishop, especially for the bishop of Rome. Because the intended audience is theChurch universal, we must pay attention to how these teachings ought to be received by the faithful, especially by the authenticated teachers of the faith, bishops and theirco-workers, the priests. It can be said that since the Pope speaks to the universalChurch, in the form of teaching central to his office of bishop, on a topic that regardsfaith and morals, that the TOB must be received with “religious submission of mindand will.”The holy Father recognizes that “Scripture is the soul of sacred theology” andthe TOB is merely reflections or a commentary on what the scriptures mean withregard to our bodies. The holy father interpret scripture in a very full sense: in boththe literal and spiritual senses, using historical and cultural human hagiographersand their intention in writing to penetrate deeper into the allegorical, moral,anagogical senses of the Word of God. With a lively faith, the holy father tells us thatthe TOB is really a living encounter with Jesus, who has a living dialogue with eachperson about their body. It is the voice of the Master that one ought to hear whenreading the TOB, for it is the same voice that can be heard in the depths of thehuman heart making the TOB a very personal experience and encounter with God inone’s own body.