Crete, from the Greek Krete, is an island of southeast Greece, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, marking the southern boundary of The Aegean Sea. Largely mountainous, rising to 8,060 feet at Mount Ida, Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, measuring about 140 miles / 225 kilometers long and 35 miles / 55 kilometers wide.

The Minoan Civilization of Crete was one of the world's most ancient, reaching a peak around 1600 B.C. The island was conquered by the Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome and Roman Legions) in 67 B.C., and was later held by Byzantium, except for a period of Arab occupation from 823-961. It was taken by Venice in 1204 and Turkey in 1669. Crete was contested between Turkey and Greece until union with Greece was proclaimed in 1908. During the Second World War, Crete was the scene of the first large-scale invasion by air when German paratroopers took the island.

Crete is mentioned in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 30:14 and Ezekiel 25:16 in reference to the Kerethites (or Cherethites), a Philistine people who are believed to have originated on Crete.

People of Crete, "Cretans," were among the earliest of Christians, being present with those gathered at the Pentecost "birthday of the church," after the resurrection of Jesus Christ - "Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." (Acts 2:9-11 RSV)

After he had completed his 3 missionary journeys (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey, Paul's Third Missionary Journey and Paul In Athens) the apostle Paul stopped briefly on Crete while being taken as a prisoner to Rome (see Paul's Journey To Rome) (Acts 27:1). It was from Crete that his shipwreck voyage occurred:

"But the centurion paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said."

"And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to put to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, looking northeast and southeast, and winter there."

"And when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close inshore."

"But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land; and when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven."

"And running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the boat; after hoisting it up, they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they should run on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and so were driven."

"As we were violently storm-tossed, they began next day to throw the cargo overboard; and the third day they cast out with their own hands the tackle of the ship."

"And when neither sun nor stars appeared for many a day, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. As they had been long without food, Paul then came forward among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. I now bid you take heart; for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship."
(Acts 27:11-22 RSV)

Paul and all of the others survived the storm, and made land on another famous Mediterranean island - Malta.

Fact Finder: Why did Paul leave Titus in Crete?
Titus 1:5

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This Week's Bible Quiz

1. What sea is located between Greece and Turkey?

2. What great river flows through Egypt?

3. What sea is located east of Jerusalem?

4. What sea is located in northern Israel near Capernaum?

5. What gulf is located along the east side of The Sinai Peninsula?

6. What sea is located on the west coast of Israel?

7. What river did the Israelites cross into the Promised Land?

8. What pool of water in Jerusalem was believed to have healing effects?

9. What delta is located in northern Egypt?

10. What river flows into the Jordan River from the east? A hint: the river's name begins with a "Y"

For the answers to this March 5 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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