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by Wayne Blank
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."
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?