Delivered in series of catechetical addresses, Saint John Paul II himself called this work “"The Theology of the Body”. This monument of theology presents the mystery of love as it flows from the Trinity, through Christ’s spousal relationship with the Church. This same love is realized in human relationships and in a concrete way in the human body.
"Pope John Paul II’s “Man and Woman He Created Them,” popularly known as “A Theology of the Body” may be the most important theological work of the 20th century. I say this because John Paul II is not only a first-rate theologian but also because “Theology of the Body” strikes at the heart of a series of related issues that desperately need addressing today. “Theology of the Body” begins with the Pope’s Trinitarianism, a fundamental doctrine that Christians often don’t know what to do with. At the heart of his thinking, and all true Christian thinking, is God’s self-giving love that is rooted in the Trinity. “Theology of the Body” also explores the nature of what it means to be human and made in the image of God. The book is titled “Man and Woman He Created Them” because it is especially in the relationship between a man and his wife that the relational and loving identity of God is revealed in humanity. Throughout, the Pope reaffirms the essential goodness of the human body.
“Theology of the Body” is thus a profound theological work that I highly recommend to pastors, teachers, and educated laymen. Be aware: it’s not an easy read! But a patient and thoughtful reading of “Theology of the Body” will, in time, become a blessing to the reader. One of the reasons it remains such a timely work is that it confronts some of the Gnostic tendencies in the Church today that spiritualize things and tend to downplay the significance and basic goodness of the body. At a time when humanistic and distorted views of human sexuality and identity abound, “Theology of the Body” provides an intelligent and profound rationale for the biblical, Christian meaning of sex, the body, and being made in the image of God.
While Protestants may think that a work written by a Pope would be too Roman Catholic for them, in reality “Theology of the Body” is a work for the whole Church and all Christians. The book is filled with profound and rare insight into who God is and who man is. It will help to complete the theology of most Christian readers and also has important practical implications.
Because the book was originally an extended series of lectures at times it can be unwieldy and difficult to comprehend. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what the Pope means in certain sections, since his writing is often dense. In spite of the difficulty in reading, it’s well worth the effort. Because of the depth and difficulty of the work, some have found it beneficial to also read “Theology of the Body for Beginners” by Christopher West." – Fr. Charles Erlandson, Tyler, Texas
"This book is a wealth of enlightenment. Michael Waldstein does a great job of helping the reader to understand key points and influences that shaped John Paul II’s thought. The text can be challenging at times but is a must read for anyone who truly wants to touch and understand the Theology of the Body." – Liz R.
"While some readers may find John Paul II’s writing style a bit circular or highly philosophical, the message presented in this text will change your life. Still, it is not easy reading. It is a collection of 129 audiences given by John Paul II commonly called the Theology of the Body. The audiences are based on Sacred Scripture. In this new translation audiences that were not delivered are now included. The Theology of the Body treats sexuality, marriage, celibacy, anthropology, family life, responsible parenthood, the wound of sin, redemption, and the resurrection of the body. This book is in my top five of best books.
I have read both translations and Michael Waldstein’s is much easier to read than the first edition. The new headers at the beginning of each section that directly indicate what is being dealt with in the text. The introduction that Waldstein provides gives a theological and philosophical vision for understanding the text.
This book is worth your time. It stands against the culture of death and promotes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It holds the answers the hunger that society is so desperately grasping at.
If you don’t know much about the Theology of Body it would prove useful to read an introductory text by West, Hogan, or Percy & Schmitz. Christopher West, who is properly described as a catechist, has excellent presentations on theTheology of the Body in DVD and CD format that could prove helpful to a first time reader.
On a personal note: The Theology of the Body has helped me so much. I am in Holy Orders and I don’t think I would be where I am except for this message (and God’s grace and His will). This isn’t some message that you can simply read and understand – it is something that you have to approach with an open heart and mind with prayer." – Daniel Francis Good
"Pope John Paul’s teaching on the dignity and value of God’s greatest creation, man and woman, is outstanding. His research and development of thought is life-changing. There are excellent teachings about the Holy Father’s treatise, especially works by Christopher West, but this original document is amazing and irreplaceable. May God bless us with understanding, wisdom and strength to spread this truth everywhere!" – Alice Brown, Vermont
"Excellent resource to help us understand our role in marriage is to be a prophetic witness of the love of God." – William G. Bledsoe, Lees Summit, MO
"This book is the best translation of John Paul II’s work. Because of new findings, it is even better than the Italian version. The first 100 pages provide a background-research on the subject. The Theology of the Body is a must for all who want to know what the new revolution in the Church will be!" – Dr S.F. Aken
"This book is indeed one of the milestones of Christian Philosophy and Theology. This book along with C.S. Lewis'MERE CHRISTIANITY, are the MASTERPIECES of 20th Century Christian Philosophy. Where Lewis turns the tide and challenges the Atheism of Bertrand Russell by giving a powerful case for and introduction to Christianity, John Paul the Great presents a stunningly beautiful look at what it means to be Human. He sets up a dam to the line of reasoning that led to the Sexual “Revolution” and ultimately to the Utilitarian ethics at the root of the Culture of Death. His presentation of the true meaning of Human Sexuality gives one deep insight to what and why we are. His Theology of the Body is an antidote to the rhetoric of Alfred Kinsey, Peter Singer, and Richard Dawkins who reduce man to mere organic compouds. We are reflections of the One who has made all things. We are Loved children who are called to Love. This insight can radically change the one who accepts it. Please read this work with an open heart and mind.
P.S.– If JPII’s work is a bit dense for you, get a hold of Christopher West’s Theology of the Body for Beginners and his monumental commentary Theology of the Body Explained. Couples should consider his book Good News about Sex & Marriage and Teens should read Jason Evert’s If You Really Loved Me." – M. Hernandez
"This book is beautifully done. The introduction is very helpful and accurate. It gives JPII’s philosophical and theological perspective and the modern philosophical problems (beginning with Francis Bacon) the pope is addressing. This call to holiness renews our call to salvation as embodied children of God from the beginning. John Paul’s reflections are moving, powerful, and persuasive." – Timothy J. Gannon
"For those who may be confused, this is the new translation of John Paul II’s The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan. JPII’s “Theology of the Body” is culled from a series of homilies (129 to be exact) he delivered in his Wednesday audiences beginning in 1979. Considering the complexity and profundity of these sermons, it is hard to believe that many in the crowd actually comprehended them. L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published the homilies, but this was done by a variety of staff translators, thus resulting in an inconsistent translation when published as a whole. Now, for the first time in English, we have a professional, critical translation of these homilies. John Paul’s “Theology of the Body” has been highly lauded as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) exposition on Christians sexual ethics, with a focus on the human person and the gift of the body. It is perhaps JPII’s greatest gift to the Church, especially as it was/is critical in the renewal of the Church after the devastating effects of the sexual revolution of the sixties and the irresponsible and childish rebellion of certain Catholic academics. For a greater appreciation of this work, one can do well to consult the more philosophical works, ‘Love and Responsibility’ and ‘The Acting Person’. The work of Dietrich von Hildebrand would also be a great supplement. On a lighter side, Dawn Eden’s ‘The Thrill of the Chaste’ would be a fine example of how JPII’s theology of the body is influencing the younger generation." – Kevin Davis