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Bible is surprise bestseller in Norway

21st December 2012

A new translation of the Bible is a surprise bestseller in Norway, joining works by E. L. James, Jo Nesbø and Ken Follett as one of the year's top 15 bestselling books.

The first Norwegian translation of the Bible for 30 years has been among the top 15 bestsellers for 54 of the last 56 weeks, the Guardian reported, and is now one of the bestselling books of the year, with 157,000 copies sold in the last 14 months.

Dag Smemo, project manager for the Norwegian Bible Society, the oldest inter-church organisation in Norway, said the popularity of the book was down to the strength of its translation.

'It's always a very touchy issue, doing a new translation of the Bible,' he told the Guardian.

'People say they like it the way it is. But we had a very thorough procedure, involving authors and poets, secular people and believers, and discussing the whole translation word by word, so there is not only a good translation of the Greek and Hebrew but also a very good flow of the Norwegian language.'

Upon its release in Norway last October it was reported that it saw 'Harry Potter-style' overnight queues as Norwegians rushed to get their hands on the new title.

Smemo said the sales of the translation were completely unexpected. 'We had a discussion in advance, and the editors thought we'd sell at least 25,000. I said 75,000. We've sold 157,000 … The surprising thing is that it's the Bible. We've been compared to Fifty Shades. We've said at the Bible Society that it's good we don't only have erotic bestsellers in the charts, but moral books too.'

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