New Bible in Norway will contain new language and better translations


Northern Europe


Norwegian Bible. Photo Facebook, Bibelselskapet

For the 2024 edition of the Bible, the Norwegian Bible Society is preparing some visible changes in the text. Some have to do with the modern understanding of slavery, sexuality and anti-Semitism.

According to a report from Vårt Land, the Bible Society has overseen the new revisions and consulted with researchers.

Jorunn Økland heads the translation commission that prepares the 2024 edition. She says that the well-known John 3:16 is one of the controversial verses. This text is sometimes called the "Little Bible" in Norway, since it contains in a few lines the whole Gospel. It is much quoted. But some church leaders, as the Oslo Bishop, Kari Veiteberg, found it difficult to read it at funerals since it speaks openly about damnation.

The Bible Society says that the context behind the John 3:16 verse involves a Greek verb “apollymi,” which means “lay waste or kill”. The Society also concluded that the Norwegian phrase “be damned”, from the present wording, will be replaced with “perish.” The term “be damned” originally mean "get lost" and can be traced from Martin Luther’s German Bible (“zu verlieren”). According to Økland, the phrase “be damned” (in Norwegian "gå fortapt") is not an adequate translation of the Greek in John 3:16. The word "perish" (“gå til grunne” in Norwegian) fits better at this place.

The word “gentiles” will be replaced by the more general “nations,” and certain verses within the Gospel of John will have “leaders of the Jews” instead of “Jews” or “Judeans”. The change stems from a debate regarding the translation of “hoi iudaioi” and that particular Gospel being “a seed of anti-Jewish attitudes,” according to the article. Several verses use the term “brothers,” but it will be now changed to “brothers and sisters” to reflect an audience with men and women, Økland said.


A more sensitive thing is the condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27. Until now, it reads, “Therefore God gave them over to shameful passions. Their women exchanged the natural cohabitation for the unnatural.” “Shameful” will soon become “disgraceful,” and “unnatural” will change to “that which transcends nature.” Økland says that although “sex between people of the same sex” is not perceived as “positive” in the verse, older translations have “given terms a negative charge.”

A similar verse, 1 Corinthians 6:9, includes the translation according to the 2011 edition: “nor men who lie with men or allow themselves to be slept with” in reference to those who will not enter God’s Kingdom. The new translation will now read: “neither those who allow themselves to be controlled by their passions nor men who sleep with men”.


From today’s perspective, another sensitive issue is slavery. According to another article from Vårt Land, the “slavery” issue within the Bible has been widely debated. The Greek word “doulos,” which has been translated as “servant”, will become “slave.” Romans 1:1 will read in the new edition: “Paul, a “slave” of Christ Jesus, greets you…”

Researcher Anders Martinsen says this choice involves raising awareness of slavery. “The New Testament was understood so that slavery was acceptable. Thus, it gave legitimacy to slavery and human trafficking,” he says.

At the same time, Bishop Halvor Nordhaug notes that slavery was different in Biblical times. Slaves could have a “decent life even if you did not own your body and labour,” he says.

According to the Society, the revised edition will be released in 2024. In previous years, the Bible underwent revisions in 1978, 1985, and 2011.



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