Franciscus Raphelengius

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Franciscus Raphelengius
Plaque in Leiden

Frans van Ravelingen Latinized Franciscus Raphelengius (February 27, 1539 – July 20, 1597), was a Flemish-born scholar, printer and bookseller, working at Antwerp and later at Leiden. For the last decade of his life he was professor of Hebrew at Leiden University. He produced an Arabic-Latin dictionary, about 550 pages, published posthumously in 1613 at Leiden. This was the first publication by printing press of a book-length dictionary for the Arabic language in Latin.

Raphelengius was born at Lannoy and studied Greek and Hebrew at the University of Paris in his early 20s. As an employee of the printer Christopher Plantin at Antwerp, he collaborated on the Plantin Polyglot Bible in which the Bible was printed in Hebrew, Aramaic (Chaldaic), Syriac, Greek, and Latin (published at Antwerp 1569–1573). He married one of Plantin's daughters at Antwerp, and later he managed the Plantin printing office in Leiden and was official printer for Leiden university. His sons continued the Raphelengius printing business. His scholarly printing qualities were one of the attractions that drew Joseph Justus Scaliger to Leiden in 1593.

Raphelengius learned Arabic in Antwerp and Leiden, starting in the early 1570s, and was doing it intensively in the early 1590s. His Arabic-to-Latin dictionary was intended for people like himself who were trying to read Arabic texts in Europe; it was superseded by the 1653 Arabic-to-Latin dictionary of Jacobus Golius.