New Bible Translation Outsells 'Fifty Shades of Grey' in Norway

12/20/2012 18:48

A Norwegian translation of the Bible has dominated the Scandinavian country's list of top 15 best-selling books of the year, beating out competition like Fifty Shades of Grey and Justin Bieber's autobiography.

"The hottest read in Norway this year is packed with polygamy, prostitutes – even corporal punishment. But this isn't Fifty Shades of Grey; instead, Norwegians have been rushing to pick up copies of the Bible," the Guardian reports in a colorful introduction.

Published last October, the Norwegian Bible has been in the top 15 best sellers for 54 out of the last 56 weeks, with over 157,000 copies sold.

"It's always a very touchy issue, doing a new translation of the Bible," said Dag Smemo, project manager for publisher the Norwegian Bible Society. "People say they like it the way it is. But we had a very thorough procedure, involving authors and poets, secular people and believers, and discussing the whole translation word by word, so there is not only a good translation of the Greek and Hebrew but also a very good flow of the Norwegian language."

"People are saying that it's very good, and we are seeing this from both conservative groups and more secular groups. It's definitely not only Christians buying it. It's atheists too – people are saying the Bible is important for us, for our culture, and for the nation," Smemo added.

While previous translations of the Bible in Norwegian exist, Smemo said that the strength of the new translation is what has drawn readers in, both believers and the non-religious. Biblical scholars worked with Hebrew and Greek experts to translate the original text, which was perfected by A Death in the Family author Karl Ove Knausgaard. The project manager noted that the sales had far exceeded the Bible Society's expectations. Initial projections predicted the sales would be between 25,000-75,000, but 157,000 copies surpassed all hopes. CP

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