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A Bibliographic Essay on Some Human Sources
for Materials Used in The Urantia Book

By Matthew Block

Attached below is a list of books which were used in the inditement of some of the Urantia Papers. Each of these books contains sentences, paragraphs or even whole chapters whose phrasings and organization of thoughts or information are so closely paralleled in the Urantia Papers as to be unmistakable sources. While a few of these have long been known to some readers (e.g., the books by Breasted, Bundy, Fosdick), most were apparently first discovered in libraries and used book stores in the Chicago area during the summer of 1992 in the course of my research into the UB's human sources.

The research so far has been so fruitful mainly because none of these books were obscure; they were all written by authorities in their respective fields (often by professors from prestigious American universities) and many were reviewed in the popular and academic press. Further, the book titles themselves are often "dead giveaways" to the alert reader of the Urantia Papers; by their very titles, for instance, I targeted "Purposive Evolution" and "The Architecture of the Universe" (listed below) as likely primary sources.

It is interesting to note that, while these books cover many fields, including religion, philosophy, archaeology, physics, astronomy and history, the revelators directly acknowledge using only the highest human concepts and insights pertaining to God and the seven superuniverses (p. 17) and to the life and teachings of Jesus (p. 1343).

I was thus quite surprised, initially, at the extent to which the revelators culled from books which do not focus on these areas. But, regardless of the lack of specific acknowledgment, it is clear that many more human sources in varous fields will eventually be traced. I estimate that writings published before 1935 form the basis of at least 75% of Part III, and most of these works will probably be found within the next few years. Eventually, we will be able to map out the Urantia Papers according to which parts were "revealed for the first time" and which were not. And again, this will not be too difficult since the revelators, while avoiding extensive word-for-word borrowings, made no attempt to disguise their sources by departing widely from the original human expressions.

Clearly, these findings are of fundamental importance to serious students of the Urantia Papers, sparking new questions and insights into what this revelation really is and how human and superhuman voices and viewpoints interfaced in its production. As we gain a better grasp of how original it is, or how derivative, we will be better able to see how the revelation positions itself with regard to evolutionary human knowledge, wisdom and faith. We will also be better prepared to grapple with the perplexing questions of the nature and extent of the book's authority, applicability and accessibility in the decades and centuries to come -- questions such as: What bearing does the book's being written in 1934-35 have on its future relevance and immediacy? What does it mean that, "this book is intended for the coming age," when so much of it directly addresses and responds to the thought trends and world situation of the early 20th century -- no longer our own, much less that of later generations? (Of course, the revelators themselves broach these questions somewhat in "The Limitations of Revelation" and elsewhere).

These initial findings have already convinced me of two things. First, while no longer equating "revelation" with complete superhuman originality, I have no doubt that the Urantia Papers were superhumanly "indited". Each of the books below was deftly and creatively used so as to seamlessly integrate human observation with revelatory supplementation or correction. Thus, to give just one example, the adjutant mind spirits of worship and wisdom are incorporated into "The Origins of Worship" paper, a paper which is very largely derived from "Origin and Evolution of Religion" (see below), whose author held to a wholly natural motivation of the worship urge.

Second, rather than being an embarrassment to the Urantia Paper's credibility as a revelation, these humanly authored books are of great help in the understanding of the Papers which use them. Often the revelators are obliged to present an abbreviated treatment of a concept or a history which is discussed at greater length by the human source. For instance, my understanding of the book's puzzling reference to "cosmic self-maintenance" (p. 482) was greatly enhanced when I came upon this concept presented at length in the Noble book (see below). In light of these benefits to comprehension, both as to content and context, I feel it would be helpful for the readership to be made aware of these sources and perhaps some of these books with expired copyrights could be re- published. Further, as an organization dedicated to furthering the study of the Urantia Papers, the Fellowship would do well to openly acknowledge the existence of these works in some way, perhaps even in our informational materials about the Urantia Papers. We should be aware, as well, that a confident and well-reasoned acknowledgement would disarm debunkers of the Martin Gardner ilk who hold the notion that revelation always and necessarliy means, to its gulled believers, complete superhuman inspiration.

In the coming months, I intend to analyze some of these books at greater length, detailing the often ingenious ways the revelators make use of them. One of my goals in each of the essays will be to show how and to what extent the superhuman presenters supplemented the human statements with revelatory information or insights. I will also address the general question of context and applicability; for instance, how does an improved contextual understanding of the book's teachings on race and eugenics (obtained by the knowledge that much of these teachings are based directly on human writings reflecting the attitudes and reference frames of certain members of the all-white academic elite of the early 20th century) help us to determine relevance and applicability to today's situation?

In the meantime, I and other readers will continue to be on the lookout for more human sources. If anyone knows of books not included in this list, I'd be very grateful to hear from you. If anyone has any questions about these books or this project, please feel free to contact me.

Editor's note: Matthew can be reached at:

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