The Teenage WWI Soldier Who Was Literally Saved By The Bible

Christians around the world view the Bible as a source of doctrine, comfort, inspiration, and hope. Some Christians believe that the Bible actually saved their lives, albeit in a figurative sense and not a literal one. For example, they may have been compelled by the scriptures to give up a dangerous lifestyle, or they may have been on the road to suicide before finding peace and comfort in God.

Despite all of this, however, very few Christians believe that the Bible is a literal lifesaver, in the sense that it's a magical talisman that protects the wearer from harm, such as a tiki god or a tribal fetish might in some religions. And of course, the book doesn't really make sense as literal armor, since it's, you know, a book.

However, more than one person has had their life literally (not figuratively) saved by the Bible. In particular, small, pocket-sized Bibles, which are generally used by people constantly on the move (for example, soldiers), can, under the right circumstances, provide protection to the wearer if his adversary happens to aim for the right spot.

Just ask Leonard Knight, an English teenager thrown into World War I before he was even old enough to vote. His Bible literally saved his life, according to War History Online, coming between his internal organs and a German bullet.

Leonard Knight, Teenage Soldier

Very little is known for certain about the life of Leonard Knight before, during, or after World War I. In fact, just about all that is known about him, according to the Express, is that he was 17 years old when he signed up to fight (he was far from the only teenage boy to be sent into the trenches in that war), and that he carried with him a pocket Bible, a gift from his aunt Minnie. The front cover still bears the touching message she wrote to his nephew as he was sent off to war.

The exact circumstances of where, when, and how the Bible saved his life are lost to history, but at some point, a German bullet was flying towards him when it was stopped by the pocket Bible he carried. However, instead of hitting his body, the bullet hit the Bible, and the book stopped the bullet. Specifically, according to the Daily Mail, the bullet stopped about 50 pages from the end.

The book, bullet still lodged within, became a family heirloom that was passed down from generation to generation, and is still owned by Aunt Minnie's descendants. Knight is believed to have survived the war and died of old age, although that has been difficult to confirm.

Lifesaving Bibles and Paper Armor

Leonard Knight was not the first soldier to carry a Bible with a bullet lodged in it. There are several similar stories from the U.S. Civil War, including that of Private Walter G. Jones. According to Houston Baptist University, his life was saved not once, but twice, by his pocket Bible which stopped a Confederate bullet. Similarly, according to a companion Houston Baptist University report, at least some World War II soldiers carried "heart shield Bibles," which were pocket Bibles covered with a metal plate.

As you can tell from these examples, these little Bibles provided a sort of extra layer of armor for the soldiers who bore them; and since they were likely kept in breast pockets, that means they'd have been directly over the soldiers' hearts.

But how does paper stop a bullet? And does armor made of paper make sense? Both of these questions were explored in a 2011 episode of "Mythbusters." Long story short, according to Myth Results, the concept of using layered paper as lightweight armor dates back to the ancient Chinese. When put to the test, the armor was indeed able to shield the wearer against swords, arrows, and firearms, and the team concluded that the myth was plausible.