The Bible, runaway bestseller in Norway

No, this is not filed under “humor.” It’s actually the case that a new translation of the Bible has become a bestseller in Norway.

Norway’s Bible Society promoted the new translation like a pop fiction novel, stirring anticipation by giving out teasers of biblical stories before its release. It turned to poets and authors such as Knausgard to make the text sing and resonate for a new generation.

Stage plays based on the Bible have also been drawing crowds. All this in a country where 1% of the population attends church.

Last year, Parliament unanimously decided to end the Lutheran church’s status as the official state religion.

And in that same year, 2012, the Bible became a bestseller. Go figure.

You can read the whole story here.

3 comments

  1. From Rodney Stark What Americans Really Believe results of the Baylor Surveys 2008:

    Apparently what most people who say they have no religion mean is not that they are irreligious but that they have no church.

    One reason the percentage of atheists has not grown during the past sixty years is that irreligion is not effectively transmitted from parents to children. Studies show the majority of children born into an irreligious home end up joining a religious group –most often a conservative denomination. p. 117

    An immense amount has been written about irreligious and secular Europe. But atheists they are not. For more than seventy years atheists controlled the Soviet state and enforced an official policy of atheism. The result? In Russian itself the score is: God 94%, Atheism 4%, precisely the same as in the United States.

    When people don’t practice a religion or say they have no religion, most of the time they are just alienated from religious people and religious institutions, not from God, or the Bible or religious beliefs or even religious practices like personal prayer.

    In the international survey of mostly Chrisian countries commissioned by a Vatican agency for the Synod on the Word of God, it was found the Bible remains highly respected as a source of inspiration, beliefs and values -more so than other “ecclesial entities” which seemed to have been their polite way of referring to the Pope, Bishops and other institutional forms of religion. The respect evidenced for the Bible among even those who were not very religious suggested to the authors of that study that the Bible was a good way to begin evangelization. Norway’s current experience seems to confirm that idea.

  2. YAY, Norwegians! I might be prejudiced pro-art, but I’ve been saying for years that the new translations of the liturgy should include the best poets in the culture. They’re bound to make a difference, even if they’re non-Catholics or non-believers themselves. Think what a difference Seamus Heaney (sometime Catholic) and Richard Wilbur (Episcopalian?) could have made in the current translations, and before them maybe even Updike (Episcopalian) and Denise Levertov (Catholic), and maybe Milosz would have been glad to help too.

  3. On Norwegian bestsellers: Years ago I got to know a man who was called the bestselling poet in Norway. I asked one of his friends why the poet still drove a subway car for a living. The answer: it doesn’t take many sales to make you a bestseller in Norway.

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