The hype it generated has been compared to the waves of unbridled enthusiasm that accompany the release of new Apple gadgets and Beatles reissues. Last October, throngs of Norwegians lined up outside bookstores to get their hands on a new translation of the Bible, which was 12 years in the making and the first in Norwegian since 1978. “We only printed 25,000 copies 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,” Stine Smemo Strachan, who worked with the Norwegian Bible Society on the project, told the Guardian. Since its release, Bibel 2011 has topped Norwegian bestseller lists every week except one, when respected author Karl Ove Knausgård published a new book. An electronic version is available for e-readers and tablets, as well as a version without verses or chapters that “reads like a novel.”
Norway is a country where the official church (Lutheran) is overseen by a government ministry and 79 per cent of the population are members. So it might not be surprising that people are so excited for an updated Scripture, even if the contents have been around for millennia.