Philip the Arab: a Study in Prejudice
babelmed - 16/10/2003
Yasmine Zahran, Philip the Arab: a Study in Prejudice, Stacey International Publishers, 2001, London.
Price: £ 22.50
This biography is the dramatic account of the rise of Philip the Arab, from a peripheral Arabian tribe to the throne of the Roman Empire. The Emperor Philip has been neglected by Arab historians and misrepresented by those in the West. Besides being the only Arab to ascend the throne of the Caesars, Philip was a Christian eighty years before the Roman Empire adopted this faith. His life also gives insight into the early Christian community in the areas bordering the Holy Land. One gets the impression that he was the right man in the right place at the wrong time for he ascended the throne when the empire was in crises.
Zahran assesses Philip's role as positive: “his accession to the throne was the first living symbol of the unity of occidental and oriental halves of the Roman Empire. However, the importance of his brief reign was not merely symbolic, for he brought back to the empire moderation and tolerance, and above all the return of constitutional government” (p. 128-9). Here, for the first time, is an account of this great leader’s life and achievements. Yasmine Zahran puts the record straight in her own inimitable style, and the picture that emerges is one of almost haunting poignancy: of a humane and just man, standing fast against overwhelming odds and rising above them.
Zahran was born in Ramallah, her studies and career have led her to the US, Europe and Jerusalem, making her an ideal candidate to write about a subject that spans Eastern and Western civilizations. Serene Huleileh