Back in the day, great novels were sometimes published over several months through installments appearing in popular periodicals. Swedish publisher Förlaget Illuminated has revived the trend with one of the most well-read books of all time.
The Wall Street Journal this week spilled some ink on the company’s serial publication of the Bible. Among other places, glossy, photo-enhanced books of the Bible started appearing last spring in places one usually doesn’t go hunting for spiritual guidance: news stand Pressbyrån.
According to WSJ,
The Swedish-language Bible marries the standard text to glossy magazine-style design. Full-color pages are illustrated with a striking combination of news and dramatized photographs: a homeless child wrapped in a sweater on the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, illustrates the book of Job; a man who drowned trying to enter Europe, for Deuteronomy; and models posing in stylized scenes convey joy or despair. Bible passages are pulled out as captions.
What is one to make of the decision to hawk the Bible along side titles like Cosmopolitan, Elle, and weekly news magazines?
Of course, Sweden has always had a unique relationship with Christianity, even before attaining the status of one of the world’s most secularized countries. After all, the daughter of the great King Gustav II who died fighting for Protestantism in the Thirty Years’ War, Queen Christina, eventually abdicated her post and fled to Rome to convert to Catholicism.
She was the first (only?) Swede–and woman–to get a final resting place among the Popes buried at St. Peter’s.
According a bishop quoted in the piece, Swedes–just like everyone else–apparently still have some of life’s ‘big questions’ left to figure out.
Although Sweden is one of the most secularized countries in the world, we are seeing a growing interest in existential questions across the Western world, of which [Bible Illuminated] is a part,” says Antje Jackelén, the bishop of Lund, in southern Sweden. “As people travel, as they are presented with a growing multiculturalism at home, they are thinking harder about what it means to be from a culture that is formed by Christianity.