- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bibles have been flying off the book shelves in Norway, a country hailed more for its adherence to secular politics and culture than spiritual development. And while religious leaders aren’t quite calling the strong biblical book sales proof positive of a spiritual awakening, they are seeing it as a sign of the nation’s more public embrace of God and a continuing quiet growth in biblical teachings.

A new Norwegian-language version of the Bible has become the country’s No. 1 best-seller, The Associated Press reported. And its popularity has been evidenced for some time. The Blaze reported that the version has been in the top 15 best-seller list for 54 of the past 56 weeks.

As The Guardian noted, Bible sales in Norway have topped the charts for longer the pop star Justin Bieber’s autobiography or the hugely popular “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Meanwhile, Norwegians are taking their faith to the stage, too. A six-hour play called “Bibelen,” which means “The Bible” in Norwegian, has been drawing thousands. In a three-month span, more than 16,000 people saw the production, The Blaze reported.

Leaders of the Lutheran Church of Norway say it’s not quite an awakening. After all, they say, only 1 percent of the country’s 5 million residents attend church. And others, such as biblical scholars, say the furor is over nothing — that Norwegians are traditionally quiet followers of the faith who don’t necessarily need to go to church as part of their belief system. But the sales are significant, nonetheless. If nothing else, they show the mindset of the nation.

“Thoughts and images from the Bible still have an impact on how we experience reality,” said Karl Ove Knausgaard, one of the Norwegian authors who helped translate the popular Bible version, in the AP report.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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