Ravis, Christian (DNB00)

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RAVIS, RAVIUS, or RAUE, CHRISTIAN (1613–1677), orientalist and theologian, son of John Raue, deacon of the church of St. Nicholas at Berlin, was born on 25 Jan. 1613 at Berlin, where he went to school at the royal gymnasium of the Grey Friars (Zum Grauen Kloster). In 1630 he began the study of theology and oriental languages at Wittenberg, where he graduated M.A. in 1636. The same year he visited Stockholm, where he made the acquaintance of Peter, son of Hugo Grotius, and in 1637 Hamburg, Upsala, Copenhagen, Leyden, and Amsterdam. Crossing to England in 1638, he fixed his quarters at Oxford, and corresponded with Archbishop Ussher, who made him an allowance of 24l. a year towards the expenses of a projected journey to the Levant in quest of manuscripts. He left England in 1639, and, passing through Paris, was introduced by Grotius to Richelieu, whose offer of a post in the French diplomatic service he declined. At Smyrna he lodged with the British consul, Edward Stringer, while he rapidly acquired a competent knowledge of the languages spoken in the Levant. He then proceeded to Constantinople, where Edward Pococke (1604-1691) [q. v.] procured him free quarters at the British embassy. He returned to Europe in 1642 with a rich collection of oriental manuscripts, and lectured at London (1642), at Utrecht (1643), Amsterdam (1645), and Oxford, where he took the covenant, and was elected fellow of Magdalen (1648); but, failing to obtain the chair of Arabic at Oxford, he accepted that of oriental languages at Upsala in 1650, and afterwards lectured on oriental languages at Kiel. In 1672 the Great Elector procured him a chair at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, where he died on 21 June 1677, and was buried in the Oberkirche. He left voluminous manuscript collections. His portrait is prefixed to his 'General Grammer for the ready attaining of the Ebrew, Samaritan, Calde, Syriac, Arabic, and the Ethiopic Languages,' London, 1649-50, 8vo (cf. Corser, Collect Anglo-Poet. i. 310, ii. 469, v. 403). A list of his other printed works, chiefly on oriental philology, written in Latin and published abroad, is given in Wood's 'Athenae.' He is to be distinguished from his brother, John Raue or Ravis (1610-1679). The latter, a disciple of Comenius, sought to carry out an improved system of education in Brandenburg, under the patronage of the Great Elector. He published a number of works in Latin, but was too hampered by lack of funds to give effect to his 'methodus informandi,' and died at Berlin in 1679 (Wood, Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 1133; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie).

[Moller's Cimbria Literata, ii. 680; Scheffer's Suecia Literata. p. 301; Jöcher's Allg. Gelehrt.; Lexikon, iii. 1925; Allg. deutsche Biographie; Van der Aa's Biogr. Woordenb. der Nederland.; Wood's Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 1130; Ussher's Works, ed. Elkington, i. 234. xvi. 52; Reg. Vis. Univ. Oxf. (Camden Soc.), p. 618; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 564; Twells's Life of Pocock, pp. 60, 134; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Rose's Biogr. Dict.]

J. M. R.