Behind the Scenes of the Hebrew Translation Project

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Gabriel Rymberg

By Gabriel Rymberg, on behalf of the translation team, Nazareth, Israel

How It All Started

A translation of The Urantia Book cannot be anything else but a “labor of love.” In fact, the first question I was asked when I approached Urantia Foundation about translating the book into Hebrew was: “Do you propose to translate the book as a labor-of-love or as a labor-for-hire?”

At that time, almost three years ago, I was reading the book for the first time, and from the moment I began, I could not stop. I would read in every spare moment, squinting on my little iPhone screen.

It took about a year for me to complete the first and second readings (every translator is asked to read the book cover-to-cover at least twice before commencing work). Then I took a test consisting of the translation into Hebrew of two full papers of my choosing. I chose the Foreword (just kidding). I chose Papers 1 and 120. Soon after, the Papers were submitted to a long-time reader who is fluent in Hebrew. Following his green light, in May of 2012, the translation project began in earnest.

Would you like to know what is required to produce a high-quality translation of The Urantia Book? Then, you are cordially invited to read on.

The Team

We started as a duo, and we are now a trio. A team that is both minimal and complete. No wonder the triads are so popular in the universe of universes. Our team members complement one another with our skills and contributions.

One team member was born in Israel and has lived in the U.S. for many years. He has been studying The Urantia Book for the last forty years and has a perspective that comes with such a long experience. He is principally responsible for the accuracy of the translation and its fidelity.

About a year ago, our third member joined the team. He is a native of Israel and a gifted poet, writer, and editor in English and Hebrew. In the application of his unique skill, the draft becomes a “symphony of words” with vast superior quality in comparison with the first draft.

As for me, I am Gabriel Rymberg, and I serve as chief translator. I have been translating professionally for four years. I have been on a long search for answers, some of which were found in The Urantia Book, all of them were found in the heart.

The Process

We would like to share with you the details of what it really takes to translate The Urantia Book. What follows is indicative of all the translations that are officially sponsored by Urantia Foundation. The Foundation’s process is designed to ensure that a translation is of the best quality by using the best translation practices.

Before commencing the translation, the chief translator translated from English into Hebrew a list of special terms consisting of more than 1,000 entries. These terms include all of the names of personalities, places, and things revealed in the book, as well as all the special words the revelators created to supplement the English language in order to denote concepts unknown on Urantia at the time of the revelation. An example is absonite.

Next, we started with the Papers themselves. In order to produce a quality translation, we started with the Foreword and are proceeding in sequential order to Paper 196. However, the translation process embraces two drafts of the entire book. The initial draft is produced by the chief translator, paragraph by paragraph, section by section, and paper by paper. Next, each of the revisers reads this draft and comments on it. Comments are made paragraph by paragraph, and we all use a dedicated tool developed by the Foundation specifically for this process―The Translator’s Portal. As soon as both revisers have commented on the initial draft, the chief translator integrates all of the comments, and this constitutes the “final” first draft. At the current rate of work (two papers per month), the duration of this phase is projected to be a little more than eight years.

Once the final first draft is complete, the entire team will switch to “revision” mode. All three of us will re-visit the entire book and make comments, and then the chief translator shall integrate all of the comments into the second draft. This second draft will then be ready for publication. The duration of this phase is projected to be an additional two years.

Why Does It Take Ten Years?

One might ask why it takes ten years to translate The Urantia Book. To achieve the highest fidelity in meaning to the English text and the highest possible aesthetic representation in the target language can require 15 minutes or more to translate one paragraph. And I read and re-read it until I feel I cannot do any better at this point. Professional translators, working for hire, have a limited amount of time and attention that they can invest in any particular task because the customer will not be willing to pay them more. This is why the translation of The Urantia Book cannot be anything but a labor-of-love inspired by the Spirit of Truth and the Thought Adjusters of all the individuals involved―not to mention our unseen friends.

We Need Your Support

The estimated time that it will take for three people to complete this translation is the following.

90 hours/month x 12 months x 10 years x 3 persons = 32,400 hours.

This is the equivalent of 1,350 days or 3.7 years of non-stop work.

At any given time, Urantia Foundation sponsors and manages several translation and translation-revision projects. If you find in your heart the desire to contribute financially to the Hebrew translation or to any other translation (the following languages are currently being translated for the first time: Japanese, Chinese, Farsi, Czech, and Hebrew), you can ask to dedicate your contribution to the translation fund of Urantia Foundation.

Foundation Info

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