THE actor David Suchet (above) has said that recording the first full-length audio version of the Bible (spoken by a single British actor) was the "biggest role in my life" in terms of research.
"I love researching characters, and the Bible is the best piece of research in the world," he said last week. "This was a Middle Eastern book for the people who lived [there]; so, unless we look at the Bible through that lens, we’re going to go offbeat."
The actor, best-known for playing Agatha Christie’s fictional detective Hercule Poirot, was speaking last month at an event celebrating the launch of the NIV Audio Bible App by Hodder & Stoughton. The app was made available in August, but this was the first time that Mr Suchet’s filming schedule allowed him to talk about it.
The full MP3 audio version was released in April 2014. Since then, more than 15,500 copies of the full recording have been sold. The app has sold 500 copies in the past three months.
Mr Suchet grew up in a Russian Jewish family and became a Christian in 1986 after reading a hotel Bible (Features, 25 April 2014). He spent more than 250 hours recording every word in the New International Version Bible, which has sold more than 450 million copies. He began the process in June 2013, in between filming the final episodes of Poirot for ITV, a feat made possible by his use of a recording studio near his London home.
The project strengthened his faith enormously, Mr Suchet said, despite the challenges: "The hardest passages to read were the ones on genocide, of course. But, as humans, we will never fully understand God; it takes faith to accept him and his decisions."
The lists of names were also a problem, he said, until he realised that "each name is a life" that was still being acknowledged in the Bible thousands of years on.
"When you read every single passage you can see the workings of the Holy Spirit throughout the whole Bible. You can see Christ on the road to Emmaus. . . He was there in the Old Testament. You can feel these threads as you’re reading them."
Mr Suchet finished recording in January last year, an achievement that fulfilled a "27-year-long ambition", he said. "I felt totally driven. I did so much research on every part of it that I couldn’t wait to get going." He donated his fee to setting up a theology bursary at King’s College, London.
Mr Suchet, who is an active Twitter-user, said that he had been "overwhelmed" by its positive reception. "People’s reactions are so humbling I daren’t think about it," he said.
The 80-hour recording is available on six CDs and as an audio digital download.
David Suchet reads Psalm 23 and Job 38-42 online at https://soundcloud.com/hodderbooks/david-suchet-niv-bible-poetry