Why did you want to do this project?
I wanted to read the whole of the Bible in order for people to do what it says in the Bible, which is that everybody should hear the word of the Lord. A lot of the Old Testament and indeed the New Testament was written in order to be heard, not to be read. The Bible is globally probably the biggest selling yet most unread book in the world. I know many people who own a Bible that have never even opened it. I don’t believe that many people have read it from cover to cover. This is a chance for ordinary people to listen to this library of exciting books – because that’s what it is – it’s full of drama, poetry, songs, books of wisdom. People spend fortunes on self-help books, but in the Bible there’s the wisdom of Solomon, you don’t need any more than that – it’s all there. This has always been an aim of mine, because I love reading out loud and because I think this is the most wonderful library of literature ever compiled.
How much of your desire to do it relates to the impact of the Bible on you personally?
A huge amount. My conversion experience was through reading the letter of Paul to the Romans. I remember reading it in my hotel room in 1986. I was very sceptical about everything to do with faith, but I read the book of Romans as if someone had written it to me. That’s the way I read Shakespeare plays, as if it’s just come through my letter box and it’s addressed to me. So when I read the introduction to the letter of Romans for the first time, I read it ‘as a letter to David’, and I read it out loud. And when I’d finished reading it, I’d found a worldview that I’d been looking for all my life. I didn’t read [the audio Bible] to be evangelical and get it out there. This is a book for everybody who would like to listen to it. It’s not aimed just at Christians, it’s aimed at the world.
What were your favourite passages to read?
I loved reading the Psalms. I read them not in a dispassionate way, as we often hear them being chanted…I read them as I believe they were intended to be read: as genuine, emotional pieces of writing to God.
Were there passages that were more challenging to read?
Anybody who even attempts to read Chronicles ought to sit there with a big jug of ice-cold water – and that’s not for drinking, that’s for pouring over your head.
What is it about the Bible that you find so fascinating?
Why is it necessary for me? It’s because on every page I meet God, and in meeting God I meet Jesus. Everything I read – Old Testament or New Testament, Psalms, wherever – I’m reading about a way of life and I am looking through the lens that gives me my worldview.
David Suchet has just finished recording In the Footsteps of St Peter for the BBC, which is likely to air at the end of the year. The NIV Audio Bible read by David Suchet (Hodder & Stoughton) is out now Follow David @David_Suchet