The Bullet in the Bible

We look back on the span of World War I through the prism of one man’s life – and death.


What do we make of finding religion in foxholes?

The centenary of the end of World War I is not an easy one to know what to do with. The relief on the faces of those captured in photos from 11 November 1918, celebrating in the streets, is palpable. But the futility of the long war, and our knowledge, looking back, of what was still to come, make the anniversary a muted one.

To mark the occasion, in this episode of Life & Faith, Natasha Moore brings you extracts from a 2015 documentary about one particular Australian soldier – and how the ripple effects of this one life (and death) reflect the unfathomable cost of the war for a whole society.

“A bullet struck him right here – in the Bible that he carried in his breast pocket. Now he had it back to front in his pocket, which means that, because it was a New Testament and Psalms, the bullet went through Psalms, and then Revelation, and then went through all of Paul’s epistles and stopped at John’s Gospel.”

Bullet in the Bible tells the story of Elvas Jenkins: from outback Australia to Egypt; from the scrabbly hills of Gallipoli to the Western Front; from a home-grown romance to the story of a miraculous escape, it traces the beauty and tragedy of a life caught up in the times, and of the life that might have been.

This is also the story of a serendipitous encounter, almost a century later, and the piecing together of Elvas’ experience through the rediscovery of his trusty battlefront Bible.

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