Searching for Paul’s Shipwreck on Malta
July 2, 2010 Leave a comment
The tiny island of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea has a rich history as one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. It all started with a shipwreck, as told in the book of Acts, about 60 AD while the apostle Paul was en route to Rome. Boarding an Alexandrian grain freighter on the isle of Crete, a fierce Nor’easter blew the ship off course. It looked like all was lost.
“On the fourteenth night, they were still being driven across the Adriatic sea when the sailors sensed land approaching. They took soundings and found that the land was 120 feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found that it was 90 feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, the sailors dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for daylight,” the book of Acts describes the story.
“When daylight came, they did not recognize the land. But they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea,” it continues.
A Shipwreck’s Impact
With the storm still raging, the ship struck a sandbar, and began to break apart. With the vessel and her cargo a total loss, the nearly 300 men on board swam for their lives. Miraculously, everyone survived.
“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta,” the story reveals.
And so began a Christian influence in Malta that has continued down through the centuries. Today, it is the most religious nation in Europe — 98 percent of its citizens are members of the Catholic Church.
Saint Paul is memorialized throughout the island, no where more than in Saint Paul’s bay, where tourists come to visit the Shipwreck Cathedral, and see the spot where most believe Paul’s ship ran aground nearly 2,000 years ago.
Searching for Facts
But when former Los Angeles Crime Scene Investigator Bob Cornuke paid a visit to Malta, facts in the biblical narrative didn’t fit with the view from Saint Paul’s bay. Those anomalies began a 10 year search for the true location of Paul’s shipwreck. Cornuke started his search in the pages of his Bible. The crux of the story revolved around the four anchors. Could they be found?
“I looked at the Bible and I said, ‘Could I solve this like it was a crime? Could I take the evidence that exists on the pages of the Bible and actually find these lost anchors that the Bible talks about?'” he recalled.
Acts 27 and 28 gives a very detailed account of the story. From it, Cornuke listed four factors that would have to match up in order to find the true location:
- A bay with a beach
- A reef or sandbar where “two seas meet”
- The seabed at about 90 feet of depth.
- A place the sailors did not recognize.
To help track these down, Cornuke enlisted the help of a group of men who know the waters around Malta best — the Maltese fishermen.
“So I started my search by going out with these fishermen, who knew the weather, knew the currents, knew the topography of the ocean,” Cornuke said. “They took me out and explained to me all the possible places based on what the Bible narrative says.” Read more.