By Asher Kaufman
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Additional info for Reviving Phoenicia: The Search for Identity in Lebanon
It was a belief shared by most Europeans, lay and clerical alike. 8 European exposure of eastern civilizations almost always resulted in romantic, fantastic attitudes. European travelers had always been attracted to the Orient, but in the 19th century their number increased dramatically, and the character of the journeys changed as well. If previously they embarked on their journeys as private adventurers, then as the 19th century progressed they often came in official expeditionary delegations with a clear agenda of unearthing what they perceived as their own history and tradition.
This is the flag. French colors. Phoenician colors, too. The blue, it is the sea that the Phoenicians introduced, through their vessels, to human history, and which they traversed along the maritime routes that civilized the world; it is also the azure of a new sky, a new horizon: the horizon of peace and heaven of liberty. The white, it is the eternal snow of the mountain; it is also the purity of the principles of justice, faith and loyalty on which the Lebanese have been raised. The red, it is the purple which gave Phoenicia its reputation and its fortune; it is the blood spilled through the centuries by ancestors to safeguard rights and traditions; it is also the struggle to hold on, the sacrifices made to elevate the fatherland to the rank of the most glorious countries.
The mission of the Maronites was to spread Christianity, especially in the non-Christian Middle East. The role of the civilizing mission of Lebanon since antiquity was an important pillar in the construction of the Lebanese national consciousness, but for Hoyek this mission had no secular, non-Christian, denotation. The Maronite Church, parochial in nature, could not preach in favor of the non-Christian, pagan adherence of its ancestors. Even al-Dibs, who wrote extensively on ancient Phoenicia and whose work is indeed impressive in its depth, could not write about the pagan Phoenician ancestry of his flock.