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DUKINFIELD, Nov. 27, 1849.
THE VOYAGE AND SHIPWRECK OF ST. PAUL. BIBLICAL Criticism has not latterly received many contributions from laymen, except indirectly by means of the illustration which their voyages and travels in the East have given to the geography and natural history, the languages and customs of the countries which were the scene of the Bible narratives. Mr. Smith's work is an exception, being an intelligent and, as we think, decisive investigation of a question familiar to biblical critics, whether St. Paul were shipwrecked on the island of Malta, or on Melita in the Gulf of Venice. He is well known in the scientific world by his papers on the geology of the Firth of Clyde; he has been an amateur sailor and ship-builder for thirty years, has yachted in the Mediterranean and studied the localities of Malta. The opinion of critics has, on the whole, decidedly inclined to Malta, but the question could hardly be definitely settled, until, to parody a well-known expression of Plato, either seamen became philologers or philologers seamen. Mr. Smith is at home in both departments; and abounding as antiquity does in disputable matters, we cannot but feel grateful to one who places any single topic on such a basis of evidence as to preclude any further waste of time and ink about it. Besides settling the main question as to the place of the shipwreck, Mr. Smith has given us, from
his various sources of knowledge, an excellent illustration of the whole apostolic voyage.
The narrative begins with the 27th chapter of the book of Acts, and extends to the 15th verse of the 28th, which records Paul's arrival at Rome. It bears the strongest marks of being written by a companion of his perils, and as the writer uses the first person, he can be no other than the author of the book of Acts, “ Luke, the beloved physician,” who in his account of the illness of the father of Publius (xxviii. 8), shews the same accuracy in his use of medical phraseology which distinguishes his Gospel. When Paul had been committed to Julius, a
The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul, with Dissertations on the Sources of the Writings of St. Luke, and the Ships and Navigation of the Ancients. By James Smith Esq., of Jordan Hill, F.R. S., &c.
† Mr. Smith notices a curious instance of professional feeling. In relating the cure of the woman who had an issue of blood, Mark (v. 26) somewhat bluntly says, “she had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent her all upon them, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” Luke more delicately says (viii. 43), "she had expended her whole living upon phy. sicians, neither could be healed of any." (P. 269.) From the combination of medical knowledge with the correct use of nautical terms, our author supposes that Luke had been surgeon on board a ship (p. 8), and gives a list of thirteen words connected with navigation used by him, but no other New-Testament writer.
centurion of the imperial cohort, he and other prisoners destined for Rome were embarked at Cæsarea on board a ship of Adramyttium. It cannot have been intended that they should sail to a port so far north on the coast of Asia Minor as Adramyttium, but no vessel was in the harbour sailing direct for Italy; this ship was evidently bound on a coasting voyage (read péllovte, ver. 2), and at some of the places at which she would touch a direct conveyance might be found. The only difficulty in regard to their voyage as far as Myra is, on which side of Cyprus did they sail, after leaving Sidon. Luke only says that “they sailed under the lee of Cyprus (UTET levoajev, ver. 4), because the winds were contrary.” The prevailing, indeed almost constant, winds in this part of the Levant at the season of Paul's voyage, as Mr. Smith shews, are from the west; the lee of Cyprus would therefore be the east; and having passed its N. E. promontory, they then sailed on its northern side, between it and the coast of Cilicia. It might seem that they had thus only delayed their difficulty, and that the west wind would prevent them from getting to Myra. But along the coast of Cilicia a land-breeze from the north prevails in the summer and autumn, and aided by the current, which constantly runs to the westward, they might casily make out their voyage to Myra. The same prevalence of westerly winds had probably driven hither the “ship of Alexandria” (ver. 6) in which the prisoners were embarked; since Myra is much out of the natural course from Alexandria to Rome. Such vessels, laden with corn, were constantly passing between Africa, Egypt and Italy, to supply the overgrown population of the capital: Mr. Smith has given vignettes of two from coins of Commodus, inscribed PROVIDENTIA AUGUSTI. They were of great size, so that a company of 276 persons might find accommodation; and the emperor Titus, after the capture of Jerusalem, returned from Syria in one of them. (Suet. Vit., c. 5.)
The next stage of the voyage is from Myra to Fair Havens, in Crete. The wind was again unfavourable, being probably the Etesian or N. W. wind, which, according to Pliny, begins in August and blows for forty days, against which the vessel might work up as far as Cnidus (ver. 7), but slowly and laboriously (εν έκαναΐς ημέραις βραδυπλοούντες και μόλις yevóuevou karà tiny Kvídov). Northward of Cnidus, however, this would be impossible, and they had no alternative but to put into harbour, and wait for a fair wind, or run for Salmone, the most eastern point of the island of Crete, and endeavour to make their way along the lee or south-eastern shore. This would avail them as far as Cape Metela, in the neighbourhood of Fair Havens; but as the coast there makes a sudden bend to the north, it could shelter them no longer; and they were compelled to put into the harbour just named. It still retains its ancient name, being called by the modern Greeks Aquéoveç Kalous. It is a small bay, with a good anchorage, and well calculated to afford shelter during the prevalence of N. W. winds; but being exposed to others, it was not, in the opinion of the master and the owner, a safe harbour for the winter, and they determined to endeavour to reach Phænice or Phænix, in Crete. St. Paul, who had had no small experience of navigation (2 Cor. xi. 25, 26), and knew that it was dangerous after the fast of Atonement, or the autumnal equinox, warned them against this attempt; but his counsel was unheeded. For Phenice, which Mr. Smith supposes to be Lutro, they accordingly set sail ;
it was distant about thirty-four miles from Fair Havens to the W.N.W., and as “ the South wind blew gently,” they had reason to hope that they should accomplish their point, and were coasting along Crete. They had not, however, proceeded far when they were caught by a tempestuous wind (ävenos ruowvikó), called in our Translation and in the Received Text of the N. T., Euroclydon. Mr. Smith gives the preference to Eurakulon (Euro-Aquilo), the reading of the Alexandrian MS., the Vulgate and the Coptic. Bentley long ago gave his opinion* in its favour, and it can never be unseasonable to quote this prince of critics, one of the few who have applied their common sense to things, as well as their learning to words.
“ The wind Euroclydon was never heard of but here; it is compounded of Eū pos and khúowy, the wind and the waves, and it seems plain, a priori, from the disparity of these two ideas, that they could not be joined in one compound; nor is there any other example of the like composition. But Eurakulon, or, as the Vulgate Latin here has it, Euro-Aquilo, approved by Grotius and others, is so apposite to the context and to all the circumstances of the place, that it may fairly challenge admittance as the word of St. Luke.-Kakías, blowing between Aquilo and Eurus, the Roman seamen (for want of a specific word) might express the same wind by the compound Euro-Aquilo. Since, therefore, we have now found that Euro-Aquilo was the Roman mariners' word for the Greek Kaskias, there will appear a just reason why St. Luke calls it žvepos Tupurikás, a whirling wind, for that is the peculiar character of Karcías in those climates. According to the present compass, divided into xxxii points, Euro-Aquilo answers nearest to East-north-east, which is the very wind which would directly drive the ship from Crete to the African Syrtis, according to the pilot's fears in ver. 17.”
Finding themselves unable to face this wind, they determined to scud before it, and were consequently driven, as by a wind from E.N.E. they would be, past the little island of Clauda, which lies south of Crete and W.S.W. of the place about which the gale overtook them. Mr. Smith observes, in reference to this sudden change of the wind, that it is very common in those seas. A captain of the royal navy has remarked, in some directions for sailing in the Archipelago, that it is extremely dangerous with southerly winds to anchor under the lee of an island, as they almost invariably shift to a violent northerly wind.” When they reached the lee of Clauda (νησίον τι υποδραμόντες καλούpevov Klavònv), they would be comparatively in smooth water; and here we may observe how accurately the narrative corresponds with the circumstances, when these are thoroughly understood. A landsman reading this passage may not be struck by any particular connection between their running under the lee of Clauda and the taking in the boat and undergirding the ship; but the seaman sees at once that such operations could only be undertaken in comparatively smooth water; neither till they had mastered the boat could they probably have undergirded the ship. This operation, now called frapping (wrapping), is performed by passing cables round and under the vessel, to
* Phileutherus Lipsiensis. Remarks on a late Discourse on Free-thinking,
† "They ran before the wind to leeward of Clauda; hence it is podpapóvres : they sailed with a side wind to leeward of Cyprus and Crete; hence it is inenevoajev.” Smith, p. 61, note.
keep her frame together, when there is reason to fear that she may founder or go to pieces : Mr. Smith mentions Sir George Back's ship, returning from an Arctic voyage in 1837, as having been frapped, with some other instances, one as late as 1846. They could not, however, remain here; the wind continued and threatened to drive them, not, as our Translation has it, “ into the quicksands,” but into the Syrtis, that dangerous bay on the coast of Africa, from which few ships escaped that had once been driven into it.* How were they to avoid this danger? According to the original, xaláoavteS TÒ OREūOS OŰtws épépovto; according to our Translation, " they strake sail, and so were driven," which, observes Mr. Smith, is equivalent to saying, that, fearing a certain danger, they deprived themselves of the only possible means of avoiding it; for if they let themselves drive before the wind without sail, they would have incurred imminent risk of foundering, notwithstanding the undergirding, from the working and straining of the vessel, left to the action of the waves; or if they escaped this risk, they must have been driven into the Syrtis. The expression, which literally rendered is, “ they lowered the tackling” or “ the gear,” is in itself indefinite, but interpreted by a seaman's knowledge of the necessity of the case, it becomes intelligible enough. To make his ship snug and safe in a heavy gale, he lowers all the upper rigging, or, as it is expressed by one who is relating a similar event, “sends down upon deck every stick that can possibly be lowered.” But though this, by diminishing the power of the wind on the masts, might lessen the risk of the vessel being strained and so becoming leaky and foundering, it could do nothing towards changing its direction while the wind continued to blow from the same quarter. This could only be effected by heaving her to, i. e. laying her on a tack, so that by the oblique force of the wind she might edge away from the dangerous shore. Now St. Luke does not mention any such operation, but Mr. Smith observes that it is absolutely essential; and perhaps the reason why it is not mentioned is, that every one acquainted with navigation would supply it at once in his own mind. Neither does he mention that she had any storm-sail set; but this also is understood as being essential to the maneuvre. Hove to on the starboard tack, or with her right side to the wind, she would drift away from the Syrtis.
On the following day, the gale continuing, “ they lightened the ship, and on the third cast out with their own hands the tackling of the ship.” Here, again, it is not clear what the tackling (okev) means. Mr. Smith conjectures that it might be the mainyard, an immense spar, probably as long as the ship, and which it would require the united efforts of passengers and crew to launch overboard (atróxerpes). A dreary interval of eleven days succeeds, in which neither sun nor stars can be seen, and all hope is taken away. Paul's sagacity no doubt perceived that this despondency was increased by the crew having taken little food (nollñs åvirlas útapxovons); not that they had been too frightened to be hungry, as Kuinoel suggests, or too busy to have time to eat, but because the violence of the rolling, the washing of seas and the leakage, had rendered the operations of cooking impracticable. While, therefore, he encourages them by the narration of the dream
* See the quotation from Strabo, in Wetstein, ad locum.