Bishop Erik Varden, OCSO, a Trappist monk and spiritual writer, has served as bishop of Trondheim in Norway since 2020. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

CNA Newsroom, Mar 18, 2024 / 11:30 am (CNA).

A Norwegian bishop and monk has hailed the publication of Norway’s first official Bible for Catholics as a breakthrough.

“The publication of a Bible presented and packaged as ‘The Catholic Canon’ by the Norwegian Bible Society is a major ecumenical event,” Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim told CNA in an email.

“It invites us afresh to engage with the entirety of Scripture, to read each book as part of a whole, attentive to the symphony of voices that join in proclaiming a single, undying and saving Word. It is my hope that many Catholics will discover the immense fascination of the scriptural text, learning to love and revere it, letting their lives be renewed by it.”

Varden, 49, is a Trappist monk and spiritual writer. He was consecrated bishop of Trondheim, in central Norway, in 2020

Published March 15, this Norwegian edition is notable not only for its inclusivity toward the Scandinavian nation’s Catholic minority, Catholic editor Heidi Haugros Øyma told CNA. The project saw linguists and Scripture experts collaborating with poets and other literary authors, including Nobel laureate Jon Fosse.

The Bible is now available in both official written languages of the country, Bokmål and Nynorsk. 

Pål Johannes Nes, co-founder of EWTN Norway, told CNA: “This is also a very important element in the re-evangelization of Norway toward 2030 through Mission 2030, which EWTN Norway together with the Diocese of Trondheim are working on.”

“It is also a great joy for me to be able to read the Bible to my children in Norwegian,” he added.

What makes this Norwegian Bible Catholic?

The distinction between Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible in Norway hinges on the inclusion of several additional texts in the Catholic Old Testament. Specifically, the Catholic canon incorporates seven extra books: Tobit, Judith, the First and Second Books of Maccabees, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (also referred to as Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch. 

Furthermore, it contains extended passages in the books of Esther and Daniel. These additional books and passages, known collectively as the Deuterocanonical books, are recognized and revered within the Catholic tradition but are not included in the Protestant version of the Old Testament.

Øyma, who was deeply involved in the project, told CNA: “The inclusion of the Deuterocanonical books represents a move toward a more inclusive, ecumenical approach to Scripture in Norway.” 

“It is a way of saying that we belong here, we are a part of the cultural and Christian landscape.”

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