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Reference: Crete, Cretans


Crete, the modern Candia, is an island 60 miles S. of Greece proper, about 150 miles long, and varying in breadth from 30 to 7 miles, with mountains as high as 7000 feet. It is about equidistant from Europe, Asia, and Africa, and was inhabited from the earliest times of which we have any knowledge. The researches of Mr. Arthur Jahwist. Evans and others have revealed traces of a very ancient civilization, including an alphabet hitherto unknown. In historical times it was famed for its archers, who were valued in the armies of Europe. It was conquered by Rome in b.c. 67, and became, in conjunction with the district Cyrenaica on the N. of Africa, a Roman senatorial province, governed by a proconsul. Jews were early to be found there, and were very numerous. Some were present at Pentecost in the year of the crucifixion (Ac 2:11). St. Paul's ship, on the voyage to Rome, sailed along the Cretan coast close in (Ac 27:7), and came to Fair Havens near Lasea. These places were on the S. coast, which had few harbours.

The epithets which a native of the island, the poet Epimenides (flourished b.c. 600), flung at the Cretans, are quoted in a somewhat un-apostolic manner in the Epistle to Titus (1:12). Epimenides styled them 'always liars, evil beasts of prey, lazy gluttons.' Such vituperation, though countenanced by others also, must not be taken too seriously. The ancients were much given to it, and it probably reveals as much of the natures of the persons who used it as of those to whom it was applied. Greeks in general are not, and were not famous for truthfulness, for instance. When and by whom Christianity was planted in Crete cannot be said. It is probable that it was well established there in the 1st century. In the Epistle to Titus we find Titus introduced as having been left by St. Paul in charge of the churches.

A. Souter.

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