The Story of Urantia Raamat - the Estonian Translation
By Peep Sõber, Estonia
I have met many astonished Urantia Book readers in the US who ask, “How can you have long time readers in Estonia which was not long ago part of the Soviet Union?” They don’t know that we started the translation in 1985 with a group of translators. In two years the whole draft was ready. We made 50 to 100 copies of this draft for people to read.
In the early 1970s, thanks to Finnish readers, the first copy of The Urantia Book arrived in Estonia, which at that time was still part of the Soviet Union. After several years of reading the book in English, a few of us formed a team to translate the book into Estonian. Urmas Lipand agreed to be the chief translator, although he was not experienced.
Photocopies of Urmas’s translation circulated among a few Estonians, but nothing more happened with it until the Soviet Union collapsed and the Republic of Estonia was reestablished in 1991. At that time, I had the idea to start a second Estonian translation with a professional translator. I knew that a French translation existed, and that Finnish, Spanish, and Russian translations were nearing completion. I had a strong conviction that our small nation of a million inhabitants needed a translation.
After giving a few introductory lectures and writing a few articles for magazines, I received a tremendous response: More than 500 people sent me letters expressing interest in reading The Urantia Book. At that time I had a regular radio program on which I introduced books published by my publishing company. Sometimes I would talk about the teachings of The Urantia Book.
On August 21, 1994, I spoke of Jesus’ birth 2000 years ago. We had a birthday celebration and invited Seppo Kanerva to our meeting in Tallinn where we introduced our new translation team. We had a great event in a high school auditorium with music and speeches. Three hundred people who were curious about the book attended.
The next year, in 1995, I was invited to Helsinki by the Finnish Urantia Association, and after speaking about our preparations for an Estonian translation, the Finns decided to financially support our project. Urantia Foundation agreed with our plan, and the work began.
We had a professional translator and several assistants. After the first 21 papers, the chief translator tired and bowed out of the project. We then found a new translator, Meeli Kuura, who was even more skilled with the English language than the first one. We also had on our team an Estonian language teacher, a long time editor, and several readers.
In 1997 we organized the first conference for readers of The Urantia Book in Tallinn, Estonia. Richard Keeler, Seppo Kanerva and several Finnish readers were our guests. The following year we created the Estonian Urantia Association and have had annual conferences since then.
In autumn of 2000, the translation team was convinced that the translation was ready for printing. It just so happened at this time that I met a professional editor who took a keen interest in the Jesus Papers. I told her to make a few corrections here and there if needed. She soon called and asked, “Do you know how many corrections I have made in the first ten pages?” I was astonished! How could she have corrected our “almost perfect” work? But she was right, and we soon found out that her skillful editing would make the translation significantly better.
What a disappointment to our readers! They knew that Urantia Foundation was ready to publish our book. Now we calculated that three to four more years of editing were needed to “perfect” the translation. Our professional editor spent eight years correcting Parts III and IV. She then retired from the project. Luckily we found another professional to complete the editing of Parts I and II.
Impatient readers criticized us for taking so long with our work. But my response was always the same: The Estonian translation is not only for you but also for all Estonians and for many generations of Estonian readers.
Estonia is the smallest nation in the world which has The Urantia Book in its own language. The great saga, which began 25 years ago, finally came to an end this year on October 1. Urantia raamat appeared in bookstores throughout Estonia. We readers enjoy this new reality of having a printed book. We no longer rely on photocopies of the first or second translation drafts which were so difficult to read.
The Estonian translation resulted from the fruits of teamwork, which affords us pleasure, not only because the Estonian translation is now a reality, but also because we know teamwork is one of the most important lessons to learn during our mortal careers.
From left to right: Karmo Kalda (President of the Estonian Urantia Association), Margit, Anne-Ly Kadastik,
Ruth Kask, Inge Pärk, Ülle Kruuse-Kingo, Pilvi Einasto, Helje Heinoja (Editor), Harri Kingo, Meeli Kuura (Translator),
Peep Sõber (Head of the Project), Jüri Henno (Editor), Kalevi Eklöf, Seppo Kanerva, Valdek Põld, Pertti Leinonen,
Tapio Pulli, Helena Juola, Tapio Talvitie (President of the Finnish Urantia Association), Leena Kari,
Joel Rehnström, Kaire Puumets-Sõber (Editor), Reijo Hamari, Ave Voolaid
Audio Urantia Book
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Urantia Foundation History