The Bible has topped the best-seller charts in Norway this month for the second year in a row.

It has been on the top slot for 54 out of the last 56 weeks, outselling both Fifty Shades of Grey and Justin Beiber’s autobiography.

The new translation was launched in October 2011. People queued overnight waiting for the shops to open to get their copy.

In a bid to make the Bible as good a read as any novel, Norway’s top authors were recruited to help improve the language that was used.

They included Karl Ove Knausgard who caused a literary sensation with his Min Kamp series of autobiographical novels.

Ingeborg Mongstad-Kvammen, Bible Society of Norway’s General Secretary, said, that people were reading the Bible because it was ‘a seriously good read’.

‘The stories of the Bible are some of the defining human stories,’ she said.

‘I hope it will re-engage both ministers and churchgoers in their interaction with the Bible. I hope it makes them curious to read it again.

‘Through that, I hope it will develop their faith, and I hope that society at large will remember that the Bible is an important part of our cultural heritage,’ she added.

In just over a year, the new translation of the Norwegian Bible has sold some 150,000 copies, far exceeding expectations.

In February, it is being turned into a six-hour play by the country’s National Theatre Company, Det Norske Teatret.

To mark its centenary, the Oslo-based theatre is staging both the Old and New Testament over six hours.

‘It’s a major theatre event,’ said Ingeborg. ‘I’m sure many people will go.’

The performances begin on 1 February. 

 

Update, 21/12/12: this story was covered by The Guardian on 20 December (online) and 21 December in the print edition – see http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/dec/20/bible-outsells-50-shades-of-grey

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