To the surprise of many, the Bible has remained among the bestselling books in Norway over the past year.
Following the October 2011 publishing of a fresh Norwegian translation of the original Greek and Hebrew editions, the ancient text has remained on the Nordic country’s list of top 15 bestsellers through 2012, offering stiff competition to popular titles from Jo Nesbø and EL James.
According to Dag Smemo of the Norwegian Bible Society (who headed the new translation project), the holy book has spent more time on the bestseller list than pop-culture counterparts such as Justin Bieber’s autobiography and erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
Speaking to The Guardian, Smemo said, “It’s always a very touchy issue, doing a new translation of the Bible. 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.”
Similarly, Norwegian Bible Society director Anne Veiteberg said that the translation effort has had a profound effect on readers: “It has been said that the new translation is closer to modern Norwegian language and therefore easier to read, and at the same time it is closer to the original texts in Greek and Hebrew than older translations when it comes to style and poetry images and metaphors. The Bible 2011 is therefore perceived as more poetic as well as a great piece of literature.”
According to the publisher, more than 157,000 copies of the new edition have been sold since November 2011.