Bible Becomes 2011 Bestseller in Norway


Right when you thought the only versions of the Bible that have yet to be translated were deep in India or lost tribes in South America, Norway drops the first Norwegian translation of the Bible in 30 years!

But that’s not the end of the story, that’s just the beginning.

This latest Norwegian translation has topped the country’s book charts almost every week since its publication in October, selling almost 80,000 copies — moving far beyond anyone’s expectations.

Its launch in the autumn saw Harry Potter-style overnight queues, with bookshops selling out on the first day as Norwegians rushed to get their hands on the new edition.


“We only printed 25,000 to start with and thought it would last six to nine months, but it was launched mid-October and by the end of the year it had sold 79,000 copies – it’s just incredible,” said Stine Smemo Strachan, who worked on the project for the Norwegian Bible Society. “It has only been knocked off the number one spot once, by [literary author] Karl Ove Knausgård … There were people sleeping outside the day before the launch because it was embargoed – it’s a bit ironic seeing that the content has been available for quite some time now.”

Not too bad, considering Norway’s population is about 4.9 million people.

Oslo Norway Church Cold winter morning sunrise

The translations process wasn’t exactly how you would expect it, either:

Thirty consultant translators, priests and academics translated the Greek and Hebrew original into Norwegian for the new edition, with a team of 12 literary authors including Knausgård and playwright Jon Fosse then smoothing out that text. “Obviously it was very important to get the right translation but they also wanted it to be readable, to make sure it was good literary language,” said Smemo Strachan. “None of these authors are religious – they are all just very good literary writers who thought it would be an interesting project to be involved in.”


What do you think about this?

Can this still be an accurate translation being translated by non-religious literary’s?

Considering this translation had more to do with translating older Norwegian into modern Norwegian, I think it’s great.

I hope these 80,000 copies are read and taken to heart.

[via The Guardian | Image via Eivind K. Døvik]


Eric Dye

I am a blogger, business owner and lover of coffee. I spend most of my time as Programs Director for Open Church, but you'll also find me as a writer and editor for ChurchMag, as well as working on Live Theme and ChurchMag Press. All while enjoying my family and sipping espresso in Italy.

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  1. Kristoffer says


    Just thought I would share my comment on this. :)
    I think the new translation is great. The language is modern, easy readable and much better than any of the other Norwegian translations.

    With regards to the non-religious translators on the team, it’s my understanding that they where brought in to help make the language more alive, or more lyrical if you will. The main leaders have been priests and religious people, but they’ve taken into account the suggestions from the litterature writers when they did the translation. The text still is true to the meaning of the hebrew and greek texts as far as I know and can read. :)

    Though they’ve done some controversial word translations that many would disagree with (ex. the name Adam isn’t introduced before chapter 4 of Genesis) or don’t like, its still probable the best translation as of today.

    • says

      Thanks @Kristoffer for your comment – that is exactly what I was wondering about.
      It is always thrilling to see God’s Word sought after and read. Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us that God says His Word will never return to Him empty:

      10 As the rain and the snow
      come down from heaven,
      and do not return to it
      without watering the earth
      and making it bud and flourish,
      so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

      11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
      It will not return to me empty,
      but will accomplish what I desire
      and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

      Yay for Norway!

  2. Marcus says

    Tranlating is a process of taking one language and making it understandable in another. One doesn’t have to be a Christian to do that accurately. The most important issue is accuracy and the person who does that best, being Christian or non-Christian, is the one who accurately communicates God’s Word from the original language.

    In fact, I’d have more concern w/priests & theologians w/vested interests in a point of view/theology coming into the process w/a bias more than someone w/o a vested interest.

    I’m sure they have their filters as well, but it’s the grasping/internalizing of the word that the “spiritual mind” (believer) understands better and not the literal communication from one language to another. Maybe they translate baptidzo for what it really is…immersion. Why do we use a greekish word today? PPL have a vested interest in the vagueness.

    I welcome it. If only I spoke Norwegian.

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