Urantia Book Index

Computer Analysis of Printings of The Urantia Book:
Publisher's Changes, 1955-1999

Copyright © 2000, Merritt Horn
Used with permission

Introductory Notes

        I.     Summary of Conclusions for the Impatient Reader
        II.    Scope of Analysis
        III.   Editorial Philosophy
        IV.   Critical Apparatus
                A.        Classification of Editorial Intent for Changes in the Text
                B.        Classification of Errors
                C.        Abbreviations; editions of The Urantia Book
        V.    Changes in Urantia Foundation editions of The Urantia Book (1955-1999)
                        Changes in 0:0.0 through 42:5.1
                        Changes in 42:6.7 through 69:3.9
                        Changes in 71:7.2 through 110:5.2
                        Changes in 117:7.4 through 196:3.29


I. Summary of Conclusions for the Impatient Reader
       Of the 133 changes to the text covered by this Appendix:

                1.        There was no basis for making 67 of them.

                2.        Database (spelling) standardization could justify 19 of the changes, but only if standardization were consistently applied—which it has not been.

                3.        Changes appropriately corrected simple typographic errors in 43 cases.

                4.        There are only 4 instances in which a change was made to correct an error that this editor cannot yet categorize as typographical, i.e., the error appears to be real but its origin has not yet been explained without resort to postulated erroneous pre-publication editing by the humans involved—editing which those same humans consistently testified as never having occurred.

               5.     The 11th printing diverged most widely from the first edition, but the text has been returned to its 1955 form at many locations, so that none of the later editions actually differ from the first at every point in the text where a change has sometime occurred.  One way to summarize the status of the last three printed editions and the currently available electronic texts is as follows:
a)                All agree with each other, but differ from the 1955 text in 81 cases
b)               All agree with each other and with the 1955 text in 19 cases.
c)                Two notes are difficult to classify (because of end-of-line issues).
d)                The late editions disagree with each other on the remaining 31 points. The last two softcover editions (13th; 14th) are identical, and almost always agree with the electronic texts and with the first edition; but the 15th printing (the new paperback and hardbound edition) is almost always at variance with the others (and is, in fact, very close to the 11th printing).
        The impatient reader will have to read further for more details.


II.  Scope of Analysis

        This appendix covers only those changes known to have taken place from the 2nd (1967) through the 11th printings (1993), but tracks those changes through the printed and electronic editions published through 1999.
        Textual issues which are outside the limited scope of this Appendix, but which can be profitably analyzed following the methodology employed here, will be included in the subject matter of forthcoming articles.

III.  Editorial Philosophy

        This analysis of changes in the text of The Urantia Book is based on the following assumptions about the origin and resolution of these problems:
1)  The Urantia Book was actually written by the authors claimed in the text and by the process described in the text.
2)  The revelators had reasons for using the linguistic constructions they employed.  These reasons may have been variously artistic, semantic, conceptual or spiritual, just as they may be for any author, but the writing of the Fifth Epochal Revelation was neither mindless nor careless.
3)  The quality of English usage in the text is acceptable proof that the revelators had the ability to learn proper English grammar, spelling and usage.  The authors were capable of choosing words and phraseology that conveyed precise meanings from among many similar constructions or synonyms.
4)  Nothing touched by human hands can be perfect; therefore, mistakes may exist in the first edition of the Urantia Book.
5)  Whether working on The Urantia Book or an ancient manuscript, an editor does not attempt to “correct” an apparent problem in the text without regard to what the author originally wrote; the editor’s goal is to reconstruct or restore the original if the extant text appears defective in some way.  Any proposed reconstruction must not only read well, but must be logically consistent with the theory put forward by the editor to explain the evolution of the extant text from the author’s original expression.  This issue has never been addressed by any list of Corrections To The Text published by Urantia Foundation (or Uversa Press or Michael Foundation).

IV A.  Classification of Editorial Intent for Changes in the Text:

        Each change has been classified according to the following outline of (presumed) rationales for the changes.  Please note that this listing does not express the current editor’s opinion of the validity of specific categories or changes. (See Editorial Philosophy above, and the specific notes.)
                S1) Correction of misspelled common English words
                S2) Standardization of variant spellings
                S3) Changes for lexical reasons (updating an archaic form or improving the etymological basis of the word)
                S4) Changes in non-English words and names either to correct presumed typographical errors or to harmonize with standard transliterations
                S5) Changes for grammatical reasons
                S6) Changes in spelling for reasons unknown
                C1) Changes in capitalization based on English usage
                C2) Changes suggested by Urantia Book usage
                P1) Changes required to conform with English usage
                P2) Changes of preference, phrasing or convenience
        Modification, insertion or deletion of entire words or phrases
                M1) Grammar-based changes (The original appears ungrammatical and has been changed on that basis.)
                M2) Changes to correct perceived inconsistencies or contradictions within The Urantia Book itself
                M3) Changes to correct perceived inconsistencies or contradictions between The Urantia Book and current scientific theory or historical evidence
        Database Errors (Unintentional changes)
                D1) Changes that may be due to the inadvertent loss of a character in the typesetting database when it was translated from one form to another after initial publication.  This type of problem should be most evident in the 1971(3rd) printing—the first that did not utilize the original plates.

IV B. Classification of Errors

         Errors by the Author(s)

A1) Grammatically incorrect use of language (Given the revelators’ unequaled command of English, this type of error does not seem likely.)
A2) Contradictions or inconsistencies within the text—internal errors (It would seem, given the revelators’ command of their material, as demonstrated throughout The Urantia Book, and by the general consistency and unity of the revelation, that, except for cases in which A3 might apply, errors of this type are not likely in The Urantia Book)
A3) Errors of scientific or historical statements—external errors (The revelators explicitly warn that apparent errors of this type do exist in the text.)

        Transcription Errors (at any stage of copying or typesetting)

T1) A dropped keystroke
T2) An extra keystroke
T3) An incorrect keystroke—either the wrong letter or number, or a mistakenly shifted or un-shifted character (capitalization)
T4) Transposed characters—with or without an intervening letter
T5) Pattern insertion or deletion errors—the inadvertent repetition of a near-by word pattern
T6) An overlooked word­—usually short connectives (or, an, of, if, it)
T7) Mis-read letters from the handwritten manuscript.

       Editorial Errors

E1) The mistaken “correction” of what was perceived to be either a transcription or proofing mistake (This would include any changes that cannot be reverse-engineered to fall within the oft-repeated bounds of  “spelling, capitalization and punctuation” that are covered by category E2.)
E2) The inconsistent or incorrect exercise of the power to “correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.”

IV C. Abbreviations; Editions of The Urantia Book

Chicago Manual or CM                A Manual of Style, University of Chicago Press, 1927, 1937, 1949 (9th - 11th editions).  The 12th and 13th editions are also referenced, but these post-date the period of the original preparation of the text of The Urantia Book for publication.
OED                               The Oxford English Dictionary, [1933] Compact Edition 1971.
Webster’s                      Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, [1934] 1944.
Editions of The Urantia Book cited in Appendix
Printed Editions
1st                    1955        Original hardcover size (6e" x 10")
2nd                   1967                        "
3rd                    1971                        "
4th                    1973                        "
5th                    1976                        "
6th                    1978                        "
7th                    1981                        "
8th                    1984                        "
9th                    1986                        "
10th                  1990                        "
11th                  1993                        "
12th                  1995        Soft-cover size (5e" x 7e")
13th                  1995                        "
14th                  1998                        "             
15th                  1999         Paperback & new hardcover size (5½" x 8d")
Electronic Editions
E-11                HTML text based on 11th printed edition.  This is the version licensed by Urantia Foundation to Jesusonian Foundation for the latter’s website.  It appears to be identical to the 11th printing, so it is not separately referenced in this Appendix.
CD                  Refers to the following two electronic editions (E-12a and CD-ROM), as their content is identical insofar as the referenced changes are concerned.
E-12a              HTML text edition available on Urantia Foundation web site in May, 2000. (This text was available at an earlier date, but it is not known when that text reached its quoted form.)  The text in this edition seems to be the same as that found on the CD-ROM, and appears to be most closely related to the 12th printed edition.

CD-ROM       The 1997 Folio Bound VIEWS edition