Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Norwegian language version of the Bible outpaces 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to top bestseller list in one of Europe's most secular countries

Sales of book seen as a sign that the Bible still has resonance in the country

A new translation of the Bible has topped the bestseller list in Norway, despite it being one of Europe’s most secular countries.

Just one per cent of Norway's five million population regularly attends church and around 72 per cent of Norwegians are thought to be atheists.

Last year the government passed a constitutional amendment severing all ties with the Church of Norway.

The new version of the Bible has sold 160,000 copies, beating Fifty Shades of Grey to become Norway's best-selling book in 2012.

The sales of the book are being seen as a sign that the Bible still has resonance in the country.

“Thoughts and images from the Bible still have an impact on how we experience reality,” Karl Ove Knausgaard, an author enlisted to help with the translation, told the Associated Press.

The runaway success of the translation, which replaces a 1978 edition, has also been attributed to increased immigration prompting Norwegians to become more interested in their own faith.

It is also seen as a sign that Norwegians consider faith a deeply personal matter rendering church attendance a poor measure of the state of faith in the country.

The language of the new translation has also been updated to make it more readable and accessible.

Church officials have acknowledged that heavy marketing was central to its success.

It was promoted as a pop fiction novel and the campaign aimed to raise anticipation by giving out teasers of biblical stories ahead of its release.