Iceland Publishing House

By Sven Hagen Jensen

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Sven Hagen Jensen, M.Div. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA) has worked for the church for over 50 years as a pastor, editor, departmental director, and church administrator in Denmark, Nigeria and the Middle East. Jensen enjoys reading, writing, nature and gardening. He is married to Ingelis and has two adult children and four grandchildren.

First Published: March 22, 2023

Iceland Publishing House (Frækornið-Bókaforlag Adventista) is a publishing firm, without a printing plant, operated in Reykjavík, Iceland, by the Iceland Conference. This institution was established in 1932, but even before that, the sale of publications was a prominent feature of Seventh-day Adventist work in Iceland.

In 1898, a year after the arrival of the first missionary, David Östlund (who had been a printer), two books had begun to be circulated – The Second Coming of Christ by James White, and Steps to Christ by Ellen G. White. From 1900 until he left the country in 1914, Östlund edited a semimonthly magazine called Frækorn (The Seed), which achieved marked popularity and had for a time a wider circulation than any other magazine in the country. Setting up his own press, he printed books and tracts in addition to his paper. Two books were published at the beginning of the century: The Prophecies of Our Lord and The Revelation, both by J. G. Matteson.1

Nils Anderson, from Sweden, a pioneer colporteur in Iceland, worked untiringly from 1903 to 1916, riding his pony to the remotest corners of the land.2 From 1912, O. J. Olsen, who followed Östlund as a mission director, used literature to a great extend to prepare the way for his Bible studies in homes as well as Bible lectures in halls. The books he used in the beginning were Christ Our Savior by Mrs. White and A View of Our Time.3 In 1925, he reported in the ARH: “The canvassing work is moving forward, and books have been sold by the thousands in Iceland.”4

When the Ministerial and Field secretary of the Northern European Division, J. H. Schilling, visited Iceland and commented on publications, he wrote: “A commendable feature of this work [publishing] is that they keep all expenses and earnings within their own circle. Their books and periodicals are well made, neat and clean. And yet they do it all by themselves!”5 Through the years, a great many books have been circulated among Iceland’s scattered population. Its people, proud of their old Icelandic literature--the Sagas--have always had a great interest in reading.

The present publishing house, established in 1932, operated a small printing press and a small offset press for many years until all printing at its own facility was discontinued and the presses sold in 1989. The presses of our publishing houses in the neighboring Scandinavian countries and the Stanborough Press in England have carried out much of the printing work such as the four volumes of Footprints of Jesus in Icelandic as well as the 10 volumes of the Bible Stories by Arthur S. Maxwell. Thousands of them have been sold in the country. Student colporteurs have come in the summers from other countries and been successful in sales of Adventist books. A translation of Counsels for the Church, by Ellen G. White, was published in 1974, along with a study guide. In the same year, the missionary paper Signs of the Times (Tákn tímanna) was published for the first time. The Great Controversy was retranslated and published in 1976, Counsels on Stewardship in 1984, and two Morning Watch books by Ellen G. White: My Life Today in 1979 and Maranatha, the Lord Is Coming in 1984. Many other titles have through the years been published for the Church and the general public.

Periodicals

Missionary papers: Frækorn (The Seed), 1900-1914); Ljósvakinn (The Lightbearer), 1924-1929; Geislinn (Ray of Light), 1930-1948; Tákn tímanna (Signs of the Times), 1974-1988.

Church papers: Bræðrabandið (Brotherhood), 1926-1987; Aðventfréttir (Advent News), 1988-present.

Youth papers: Viljinn (The Will), 1954-1973; Innsýn (Insight), 1974-1988.6

Managers

O. J. Olsen (1932-1933); M. Helgason (1933-1949); J. Gudmundsson (1949-1959); M. Helgason (1959-1966); R. Burgess (1966-1969); O. Kristinsson (1969-1976); T. Sveinsson (1977-1989); J. Johansson (1989-1991); E. V. Arason (1991-1994); E. Theodorsson (1994-1995); G. Anthony (2002-2006); E. Gudmundsson (2006-2017); G. Anthony (2017- ).7

Sources

Olsen, O. J., “Our Work in Iceland.” ARH, November 1925.

Raft, J. C. “Iceland (Concluded).” ARH, February 18, 1915.

Schilling, J. H., “Iceland-Faroe Conference.” ARH, May 22, 1930.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second revised edition. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association,1996. S.v. “Iceland Publishing House.”

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks, 1925-2021. https://adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Iceland Publishing House.”

  2. Ibid.

  3. J. C. Raft, “Iceland (Concluded),” ARH, February 18, 1915, 12.

  4. O. J. Olsen, “Our Work in Iceland,” ARH, November 5, 1925, 10.

  5. J. H. Schilling, “Iceland-Faroe Conference,” ARH, May 22, 1930, 27.

  6. “Publishing Houses and Periodicals,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

  7. Ibid.; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Iceland Publishing House.”

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Jensen, Sven Hagen. "Iceland Publishing House." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 22, 2023. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=4CR9.

Jensen, Sven Hagen. "Iceland Publishing House." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 22, 2023. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=4CR9.

Jensen, Sven Hagen (2023, March 22). Iceland Publishing House. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=4CR9.