In addition to the scheduled presentations - including, of course, many by Bob Cornuke himself - we had substantial assistance from Pastors Tim Remington, Dan Stolebarger, Ron Matsen, and others. Gordon and Tracy McDonald also shouldered the many details attending the evening course work: over 60 were taking the trip as a course for university credit.
But the greatest blessings came from the remarkable commitment and attitudes of the people present: it was unquestionably one of the most enjoyable experiences Nan and I have ever had.
After gathering in Athens and meeting on Mar's Hill, reviewing the Parthenon, et al., we boarded our ship, the Aegean I, and headed for Ephesus, which is one of the "must-see" places to visit (see photo). After touring the very extensive site, we were off to the island of Patmos, where John penned the Book of Revelation.
Our ship then treated us to pleasant stops at Crete and Santorini before heading to Malta which, of course, was the highlight of the trip.
Truth vs. Tradition
The discoveries of the lost anchors of Paul pose a serious challenge to the leadership of Malta. The traditional site (selected by a monk in the 15th century) is on the north side of the island at a place called "the Bay of St. Paul." There are substantial investments around that bay celebrating the events of Acts 27 and 28. The economic impact of challenging these time-honored traditions is not to be taken lightly.
However, a thorough review of the entire coastline of Malta leaves only the Bay of St. Thomas (on the southeast side of the island) as the sole candidate site (see photo).
Furthermore, the relationship of the Munxar Reef, where literally (and conspicuously) "the two seas meet," and the uniqueness of the specific location in 90 feet deep (15 fathoms) water-in an area where there is no reason for any anchors to be found there but for the distinctive actions described by Luke's account-all contribute to confirming the reality of the anchors actually being the ones cut loose as described so precisely in Acts 27.
So, having been authenticated by academic authorities in 1st century naval practices, they are now on display at the Maritime Museum (see photo). (As a serious student of naval history, I must confess I was profoundly impressed with quality and extent of the remarkable exhibits there: even without the Biblical discoveries, it is a "must-visit" if you have the opportunity to visit Malta.)(see photo)
There are many implications of the discovery of the anchors. They are among the first man-made artifacts uncovered that are specifically detailed in the New Testament, and thus are an encouragement to many. They undoubtedly will prove to have evangelical and apologetical implications in the years to come.
But they also confront the continual tensions between truth and tradition that pervades all Biblically related discoveries. We learned that some of the professors at the university there gave Bob Cornuke's book, The Lost Anchors of Paul, to their students with the challenge to write a paper contrasting "tradition versus truth."
That's a challenge that we all need to keep in mind as we visit sites and relics that challenge our notions of the past (and future!).