A surprising bit of news surfaced last week in Norway: a new Norwegian translation of the Bible outpaced titles such as "Fifty Shades of Grey" to become the number one bestseller in the country. This in a country where approximately 75% of the population is thought to be atheist, where just last year the government passed a constitutional amendement officially severing all ties with the Church of Norway, and where a meager 1% of its population of 5 million attend church on a regular basis.
The cultural resonance of the Bible has clearly yet to be usurped, even in increasingly secularized countries like Norway.
The success of the new translation has been attributed to renewed Norwegian interest in their cultural history in the face of recent immigration increases and a successful and innovative marketing campaign for the new translation conducted by the Church of Norway. Church officials marketed the new Bible with borrowed tactics from popular fiction campaigns, including releasing "teaser" stories from the Bible ahead of time.
The Bible was first translated into Norwegian - specifically Old Norse - at the end of the 13th century when parts of the Old Testament were paraphrased in a collection of manuscripts entitled Stjorn.