A History of The Urantia Papers
by Larry Mullins
with Dr. Meredith Justin Sprunger
THERE WAS A GROWING TURMOIL and uncertainty in the world when the Forum began to re-read the 76 Urantia Papers 1 and ask "more intelligent questions" circa 1929. Black Monday, October 28, 1929, saw the collapse of the U.S. stock market and a world-wide economic crises ensued. The United States was to plunge into a severe depression. Europe was acutely impacted by the crisis, and in Germany a militant Nazi party gained 107 seats in German elections the next year. Between 1924 and 1928 Bill Sadler, Jr. was in the Marine Corps. By 1929, he was 21 and was to become more and more active in the revelation. 2
Through it all, the Contact Commission continued on with their task of a new round of presenting the Urantia Papers to the Forum members and collecting their questions about the material.
There is not any acknowledgement by the Revelators in the Urantia Papers of any assistance by the Forum or the Contact Commission. The questions asked by the Forum are not included in the text or referred to in any specific way. Many readers have noted that often a question comes up in study groups that is answered a few paragraphs later. This testifies to the human commonality of the type of questions that were asked by the Forum. The request for better questions proved effective, and the Revelators expanded the existing material considerably. The original Paper about the nature of God was eventually expanded first into two, and then into five Papers, the first five in the Book. A question about the Revelators' use of the word personality resulted in an additional Paper. 3 Eventually, during the next five years or so the 76 Papers would be increased to 119. The Papers were divided into three parts:
THE CENTRAL AND SUPERUNIVERSES. This section was sponsored by a Uversa Corps of Superuniverse Personalities acting on the authority of the Orvonton Ancients of Days. Uversa is the Capital of Orvonton, which is our superuniverse. These Papers eventually numbered 31.
THE LOCAL UNIVERSE. These 25 Papers were sponsored by a Nebadon Corps of Personalities acting under authority of Gabriel of Salvington. Nebadon is the name of our local universe, and Salvington is the Capital.
THE HISTORY OF URANTIA. These were sponsored by a Corps of Universe Personalities under authority of Gabriel of Salvington. These Papers number 63. In the judgment of the author, these Papers may have originally numbered 62, and were possibly expanded to 63 when the Jesus Papers arrived. This possibility would account for the dating, and is examined in the next few paragraphs.
While the Forum was completing the second round of reading the existing Papers in 1934, another drama was unfolding. Behind the scenes, so to speak, the fate of the Jesus Papers was being decided. We know Dr. Sadler believed the members of the Midwayer Commission who were assigned to the Revelation had doubts about their authority to present to the human Contact Commission their narrative of The Life and Teachings of Jesus. To clarify the issue, a "friendly" celestial "legal challenge," ensued, in which the Midwayers in charge of the Revelation technically confronted the group of Midwayers who were responsible for compiling the Jesus Papers. The "charge" was contempt of universe policy. 4 The Local System Councils refused to review the challenge, and referred it upward to the Norlatiadek Constellation Councils. When these courts referred it to the Nebadon Councils, it was pushed yet higher to the Orvonton superuniverse authorities. From beginning to end, the friendly protest extended to a year of Urantia time before the decision was handed down. The group of Midwayers who had prepared The Life and Teachings of Jesus were not only exonerated, they were given a special mandate of highest priority for the project. When the news came the Midwayer Commission was overjoyed. Dr. Sadler told Meredith Sprunger that, by some means, the Contact Commission was allowed to briefly "listen in" to the resulting Midwayer celebration. 5
The story of this friendly discord conveys a powerful message. It is touching to consider the energy and devotion of the team of Midwayers who had patiently waited to bring The Life and Teachings of Jesus to our dark and foundering world. At the same time, it is inspiring to consider the forbearance and respect they had for the limits of their own authority, notwithstanding their personal feelings and beliefs. Perhaps the Midwayers were modeling an ideal non-proprietary attitude toward the Urantia Papers.
The dating of each section
Some Urantians have been confused by the dating of the various parts of The Urantia Book. One commentator has claimed that the Papers were "completed" and "certified" in 1934, basing this idea on an out of context statement in History Two. The full information contained in History Two, the testimony of those who were there, and more important, the Urantia Papers themselves clearly refute the idea that the Papers were designated "complete" by the Revelators in 1934-1935.
At the end of each of the first three parts of the Urantia Papers is a citation, disclosing certain information about the Papers in the section and giving the date that they were formulated or indited into the English language. Note that in no case does a citation state the Papers were "certified" or "completed" on these dates. We shall see that the established reading and editing sequences were to take many additional years before the manuscript of all 196 Papers would be deemed finished by the Revelators, and ready to be typeset.
The citation at the end of Part I reads: "These thirty-one papers depicting the nature of Deity, the reality of Paradise, the organization and working of the central and superuniverses, the personalities of the grand universe, and the high destiny of evolutionary mortals, were sponsored, formulated, and put into English by a high commission consisting of twenty-four Orvonton administrators acting in accordance with a mandate issued by the Ancients of Days of Uversa directing that we should do this on Urantia, 606 of Satania, in Norlatiadek of Nebadon, in the year A.D. 1934." 
The citation at the end of Part II reads: "This paper on Universal Unity is the twenty-fifth of a series of presentations by various authors, having been sponsored as a group by a commission of Nebadon personalities numbering twelve and acting under the direction of Mantutia Melchizedek. We indited these narratives and put them in the English language, by a technique authorized by our superiors, in the year 1934 of Urantia time." 
The citation at the end of Part III reads: "[This paper, depicting the seven bestowals of Christ Michael, is the sixty-third of a series of presentations, sponsored by numerous personalities, narrating the history of Urantia down to the time of Michael's appearance on earth in the likeness of mortal flesh. These papers were authorized by a Nebadon commission of twelve acting under the direction of Mantutia Melchizedek. We indited these narratives and put them in the English language, by a technique authorized by our superiors, in the year A.D. 1935 of Urantia time.]" 6  Brackets are in the original.
The final Paper of Part III is possibly a "bridge" into the Jesus Papers, and, because of its dating and authorship, may have been added to the existing 62 Papers of Part III at the time, or just before the Jesus Papers arrived in 1935. Paper 119 (the 63rd of Part III) seems to have no apparent sequential relationship to the Papers proceeding it in Part III. It is authored by "The Chief of the Evening Stars" -- an entity who authors no other Papers -- and it seems to signal a change of focus to a new phase of the history of our planet: the recovery and expansion of the human knowledge that had been lost relative to the Fourth Epochal Revelation, the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Part IV, The Jesus Papers
The Life and Teachings of Jesus came all at once in 1935, and not in response to questions by the Forum. Probably, Part IV had been already authored by the Midwayers at the time permission was given to materialize it and insert it into the revelatory process. There is no dating of the Part IV Papers. The sponsoring statement at the beginning reads:
"This group of papers was sponsored by a commission of twelve Urantia midwayers acting under the supervision of a Melchizedek revelatory director. The basis of this narrative was supplied by a secondary midwayer who was onetime assigned to the superhuman watchcare of the Apostle Andrew." 
The Melchizedek director's citation of the first Paper in the series (120) reads: "Acting under the supervision of a commission of twelve members of the United Brotherhood of Urantia Midwayers, conjointly sponsored by the presiding head of our order and the Melchizedek of record, I am the secondary midwayer of onetime attachment to the Apostle Andrew, and I am authorized to place on record the narrative of the life transactions of Jesus of Nazareth as they were observed by my order of earth creatures, and as they were subsequently partially recorded by the human subject of my temporal guardianship. Knowing how his Master so scrupulously avoided leaving written records behind him, Andrew steadfastly refused to multiply copies of his written narrative. A similar attitude on the part of the other apostles of Jesus greatly delayed the writing of the Gospels." [Page 1332] The balance of the Urantia Revelation -- the Jesus Papers -- were sponsored by a "Midwayer Commission."
Both Dr. Sadler and Christy told Dr. Sprunger that the entire revelation was materialized in handwritten form. In the previously discussed taped interview with Bill Sadler, Jr., he said the process of materialization was never observed, but he speculated that if the materialization of a Paper could have been observed, probably all that could have been seen would be a pencil writing on a tablet all by itself. When asked if all the Papers were written in pencil, he affirmed that they were. 7
James "JJ" Johnson, of Phoenix, Arizona had two personal conversations with Christy -- once in the 70's and again in the early 80's. She told him on his first visit that the manuscript was handwritten. He specifically asked how she knew which words to italicize when she typed the manuscript. Christy responded, "All the words we italicized were underlined." He provides this information as further support for a text that was materialized in handwritten form. 8
Part IV, The Life and Teachings of Jesus was materialized just as were the other Papers. The same process took place after they were received: typing the Papers from the handwritten manuscript, checking them, and then the manuscript disappeared. There has been testimony, notably Urantian Bud Kagan's, that the Jesus Papers arrived typewritten. However, this idea flies in the face of Dr. Sadler's testimony and correspondence. A letter from Benjamin N. Adams, copied to Dr. Sadler, queried the accuracy of several areas of the Papers. On one point, Adams noted that the teacher of Alexandria who taught Clement was Pantaenus, not Poutaenus, as incorrectly stated in the 1955 printing on page 2074. Dr. Sadler explained the error in a letter to Reverend Adams on May 17, 1959:
"I think the spelling of the name of the teacher in Alexandria is undoubtedly an error in transcribing the manuscript into typewriting. An `an' was undoubtedly transcribed as a `ou'. I remember when we were sometimes in doubt as to whether a letter was an `a' or a `u' in the manuscript. Of course, we who were preparing this matter, did not know the name of this teacher so could have easily made this mistake." [See Appendix B for a full text of this letter].
Since the passage in question is from the Jesus Papers, it was clearly transcribed from a handwritten document, a document written with the same characteristics as the rest of the Urantia Papers. In a different portion of the letter Dr. Adams points out another possible error:
"Page1363 (near bottom) `Far to the east they could discern the Jordan valley and, far beyond, the rocky hills of Moab.' But the rocky hills of Moab were not east of Nazareth but east of the Dead Sea." [See Appendix B for a full text of Dr. Adams' letter.]
Dr. Sadler replies:
"Your notation about Moab is a puzzler to me. We have just looked in the atlas, and, of course, you are right. I have no explanation for this matter -- either a mistake of the midwayers or a mistake in copying. I cannot say, but evidently you are right in this matter." [See Chapter Seven, changes in the text notation under Part IV, page 156, #13]
In his letter, Dr. Sadler is candid and does not indicate that he will institute changes to correct the apparent discrepancies. The reader may notice that it seems apparent from his responses that he no longer had access to the Revelators by 1959. Another point of interest in Dr. Sadler's letter is that he indicates the Revelators elected to withhold a considerable portion of the manuscript of The Life and Teachings of Jesus. He writes:
"You should remember that the midwayers prepared a narrative that was many times larger than was finally given us as Part IV of the Urantia Book. It may be that in deletion some difficulties were encountered."
Based upon the testimony of Dr. Sprunger, Clyde Bedell and others, the Jesus Papers were read to the Forum and handled by the Revelators just like the rest of The Urantia Book. This can be also documented within the full context of the statements in History Two that the Jesus Papers were read to the Forum:
"This was the plan. We would read a Paper on Sunday afternoon and the following Sunday the new questions would be presented. Again these would be sorted, classified, etc. This program covered several years and ultimately resulted in the presentation of the 196 Papers of the Urantia Book.
"In a way, there was a third presentation. After receiving these 196 Papers, we were told that the `Revelatory Commission' would be pleased to have us go over the Papers once more and ask questions concerning the `Clarification of Concepts' and the `Removal of Ambiguities.' This program again covered several years. During this period very little new information was imparted. Only minor changes were made. Some matter was added - some removed - but there was little revision or amplification of the text.
"What has just been recorded refers more particularly to Parts I, II, and III of the Urantia Book. Part IV -- The Jesus Papers -- had a little different origin. They were produced by a midwayer commission and were completed one year later than the other Papers. [Note: the following line is the one usually taken out of context]. The first three parts were completed and certified to us in A.D. 1934. The Jesus Papers were not delivered until 1935." 9
The line that is taken out of context is used to support the idea that the Papers were "completed and certified" in 1934. However, in proper context with the previous passages, it is clear that an inexperienced writer (probably Christy) intended to communicate that Parts I-III of the Papers were materialized in 1934 and passed into human hands. The Jesus Papers came a year later. Then the reading sequences continued for all 196 Papers under the watchcare of the Midwayer Revelatory Commission for "several years." [The copy of the text was not frozen until approximately May of 1942. At that time, the Forum was told by the Revelatory Commission that no more questions would be entertained. These events will be examined in more detail in the following chapters.]
There is an anecdote I heard from Clyde Bedell, Dr. Sprunger and others that further indicates the Jesus Papers were read to the Forum and subsequently edited by the Midwayers. Dr. Sadler, in presenting a Paper one Sunday to the Forum, read that "Nathaniel had a good sense of humor for a Jew." There was a titter of amusement that went through the Forum members. Later on, when the typed copy was removed from the vault and examined (the original written manuscripts had been destroyed), this statement did not appear. Since the manuscripts were always kept in a vault, it was never understood how this and other "corrections" could have been executed on the typed manuscript.
The process of reading all the Papers to the Forum continued through the Thirties. Clyde Bedell stated in 1983:
"The Papers were revised until Paper 196 had been presented, questions asked, and then answers brought forth into the text which would amplify, and so forth." 10
When the Jesus Papers first arrived in 1935 they were not only a surprise (in that the original manuscript was not in response to Forum questions), The Life and Teachings of Jesus also greatly expanded the scope and implications of the Revelation. As noted, according to Dr. Sadler's letter to Dr. Adams, the final version that was materialized for the humans (after it had been edited down by the Midwayers), was much smaller than the original work. However, Part IV increased the size of the text by one third. Moreover, Part IV was remarkably focused and detailed to a specific time frame.
The previous 1300-plus pages of The Urantia Book covered a period of 400 billion years, even to the origin of time itself. It described distances encompassing the universe that are beyond the human imagination to grasp. In contrast, the 773 pages that describe the life and teachings of Jesus cover just over 35 years of one man's life, and for the most part focus upon his travels over a few hundred square miles of land. Nearly one-third of the Jesus Papers record the last seven days of Jesus' life and the events that immediately followed his death. The proportional ratios in real time to space-allotment in the text would be a challenge to calculate! No wonder Clyde Bedell would later write:
"The first 1300 pages of The URANTIA Book are preliminary to its last 800 pages, the most important 800 pages of print on earth - THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF JESUS. The 800 pages are not to support the first 1300. The first 1300 pages are in The URANTIA Book to provide an immeasurable cosmic backdrop. An infinite setting and support for the Creator of our universe - living a life with a mission on our tiny planet." 11
Some fundamentalist Christians would point to the warning that John gave at the end of Revelations, the last Book in the Bible, in which he declared that no one should add or detract a single word from what has been written. In those "pre-copyright" days such warnings were not unusual. Urantians will point to other words penned by John at the end of his Gospel of Jesus:
"Jesus did many other things as well, if every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" 12
Many people have been enthralled by the deeds and treasured the words of Jesus in the Bible. If there is the slightest possibility that there are additional words and deeds that were faithfully recorded and are now revealed, would it not be worthwhile to at least examine the Jesus Papers? For many, many Urantians (myself included), the Jesus Papers rekindled my latent desire to believe in the Man of Nazareth and the Son of God, and to study his teachings. When I finished my first reading of the Jesus Papers, I discovered I had recovered a childlike faith in Jesus that was eventually to reconfigure my entire belief system. Such is the power of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed: "Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it." (page 2090)
However, in the years that followed the publication of The Urantia Book, the Jesus Papers were attacked by people with various agendas on the basis that they were "added" as an afterthought, or even contrived by Dr. Sadler himself. Even today, some individuals advance this claim. On the contrary, there is some evidence to support Clyde Bedell's assertion that the Jesus Papers were intended to be the final masterpiece, and the earlier Papers form the frame that was designed to present them. As an anonymous Urantian once declared:
"The last part of The Urantia Book shows how someone lives who understands the first three parts."
No critic who has proposed that Dr. Sadler was the author, or heavily edited the Urantia Papers in whole or part, has ever pointed to a plausible motive. Dr. Sadler did not need the Urantia Papers, he had a very successful life. He gained no power or wealth from the Urantia Papers, and he was already quite famous. In fact, had Dr. Sadler's involvement with the publication of The Urantia Book been widely publicized, it would doubtless have jeopardized his flourishing professional career. Dr. Sadler was a man of unquestioned honor and reputation, and none who knew him believed he would have violated his sacred oath to protect the Urantia Papers from the contamination of human additions or modifications.
With the addition of The Life and Teachings of Jesus, Part IV, seventy-seven Papers were added. The Papers now numbered 196.
Preparing a Foreword to the Papers
At some point, Dr. Sadler and Bill Sadler, Jr. decided that the Urantia Papers would need some kind of an introduction. They composed a document to serve this purpose, but were soundly rebuffed in a contact session. The Revelators told them that, although they meant well, their contribution was not acceptable: "A candle cannot light the way to the sun." The Sadlers were further advised that at the proper time an introduction would be prepared for the Book. When they received the Foreword for the Book, Dr. Sadler conceded the inadequacy of what he and his son had prepared. 13
Later on, however, Bill Sadler, Jr. was given permission to compose a Table of Contents for the Book. He compiled the Paper titles and section headings for this Table of Contents. Urantian James "JJ" Johnson, of Phoenix, Arizona, points out that Bill Sadler took some minor liberties in this process. One of Johnson's several discoveries is that Bill lists Mantutia Melchizedek as author of Paper 120. While the Papers imply he may have been the author they do not specifically list him. Other than the Table of Contents, Dr. Sadler was very clear that no human had any authorship of any part of the actual text of the Urantia Papers.
A member of the Forum once made suggestions for "improving" one of the Papers and this was relayed through the Contact Commissioners to the Revelators. They were vigorously informed that no human additions to the content of the Urantia Papers would be allowed. Every precaution was made to publish the Urantia Papers and Foreword exactly as they were received. 14 The Foreword of The Urantia Book closes with this citation on page seventeen: "[Indited by an Orvonton Divine Counselor, Chief of the Corps of Superuniverse Personalities assigned to portray on Urantia the truth concerning the Paradise Deities and the universe of universes.]" Brackets are in original.
The third round for the Forum
By 1939, the process may have become somewhat routine and perhaps even desultory for many of the Forumites. Turnover continued to be high and regular attendance in the Forum was often less than impressive. Some of the more dedicated Forumites suggested that a group volunteer to commit to a deeper study of the Papers and more regular attendance. (Both Dr. Sprunger and Mark Kulieke suggest that this idea might have come at the behest of the Revelators. There is also apocrypha alleging a "communication" to that effect.) Seventy members of the Forum volunteered for more intensive classes. Meetings of the seventy were held in a more formal manner, with Wednesday night classes as well as Sunday meetings. The "Seventy," as they became known, carried on a systematic study of the Papers from April 5, 1939 to the summer of 1956. During these 17 years, the Seventy enrolled 107 students. This group was the forerunner of the later "School of the Urantia Brotherhood." 15
The Seventy were said to have received eight written messages through the Contact Commission, communications from the Seraphim of Progress who were attached to the Superhuman Planetary Government of our planet. During these years many other written messages were purportedly received by the Contact Commissioners. Almost all such messages had a notation at the bottom of the last page which read: "To be destroyed by fire not later than the appearance of the Urantia Papers in print." It was clearly the design of the Revelators that no Urantia apocrypha would exist subsequent to the publication of the Book. 16
Unfortunately, alleged Urantia apocrypha continually turn up. Sometimes this information is interesting and helps us understand things, sometimes it is out of context, edited, and misleading. When we examine these materials we should remind ourselves such "messages" are not revelation, and verification of the source of these writings is not possible. Even if they were communications from the Revelators, they were doubtless intended for another time and place. Since the originals were supposed to be destroyed, the existing Urantia apocrypha such as copies of "directive notes" from celestial personages are less historic evidence than they are indications of the weakness and folly of human nature. With these caveats in mind, there follows an alleged message from a regent of the acting Planetary Prince of Urantia which is said to have been intended for both the Seventy and the Forum:
"I have personal interest in your group and deep affection for you as individuals. I commend your loyalty, but I am somewhat amazed at your relative indifference to the importance of the mission which has been entrusted to your hands. Your group of Seventy may seem to show more interest because you are selected and because you are under more or less discipline. But the majority of your Forum shock me with their lack of enthusiasm. . . I admonish you to be ever alert to the importance of the extraordinary trust that has been placed in your hands." 17
As the Forties approached, it appeared that the Revelators would soon "freeze" the text and permit commencement of the typesetting in preparation for the publication of The Urantia Book. On August 1, 1939, Dr. Lena Sadler died after a long and courageous fight with breast cancer. She had been successful in raising over $20,000 in small donations for the publication fund of The Urantia Book. 18 Since this fund was not adequate, a wealthy member of the Forum offered to fund the entire publication. However, the Midwayers, according to what Dr. Sadler told Meredith Sprunger, counseled against this. They strongly advised that the funding of the publication of The Urantia Book should be a group activity. A general appeal was made and, along with what Dr. Lena Sadler had previously raised, the enthusiastic response by the Forum proved adequate to fund the first printing.
With the death of Dr. Lena Sadler in 1939, one of the original Contact Commissioners was gone and there was no provision to replace her. It became obvious that time was becoming more and more a factor as the remaining Contact Commissioners wondered if they would live to see publication of the book. Dr. Sadler and the Kelloggs were in their mid-sixties now, Christy was almost fifty, and Bill Sadler, Jr. had just passed thirty. Still, the commissioners entertained the hope that the Urantia Papers "would be published during the lifetime of at least some of the members." 19
One month after Dr. Lena Sadler's death, September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. World War II had begun.
2. In Chapter Three it was documented that Bill Sadler, Jr. began to seriously examine the Urantia Papers when on leave from the Marines. At that time (as previously documented) he was cautious about them, and asked his father whether anyone was "making money" from the phenomenon. In an audio tape made in Oklahoma dated 2/18/62, Bill Sadler presents a theory about how the Urantia Papers were materialized (See Chapter Five). He also states that the information he relates about the period 1924 - 1928 "is hearsay." He gives this date twice, and also refers to being "in Nicaragua fighting a revolution" in the twenties. This period seems to define the dates of his Marine Corps enlistment. The World Book Encyclopedia confirms that American Marines were in Nicaragua during this period, calming a revolution and supervising elections.