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Patai, Raphael


PATAI, RAPHAEL (1910–1996), anthropologist, biblical scholar, and editor. A son of József *Patai, he was born in Budapest, Hungary. In 1933 he settled in Palestine, where he was awarded the first Ph.D. degree of the Hebrew University in 1936. Returning to Budapest for a brief period, he was ordained at the rabbinical seminary. In 1938 Patai became an instructor in Hebrew at the Hebrew University. In 1942–43 he served as academic secretary of the Haifa Technion. In 1944 Patai founded the Palestine Institute of Folklore and Ethnology in Jerusalem and served as its director of research until 1948. In 1945 he launched and edited the journal of the institute, Edoth (Communities); a Quarterly of Folklore and Ethnology. In 1949 he began editing a series of books for the institute entitled Studies in Folklore and Ethnology (5 vols.) and another series Social Studies (2 vols.).

In 1947 he went to the U.S. and in 1948–57 was professor of anthropology at Dropsie College. From 1966 to 1976 he was professor of anthropology at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutherford, New Jersey. During 1956–68 Patai served as president of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University in New York. In 1956 he became director of research of the Herzl Institute, New York, and from 1957 also editor of the Herzl Press.

His main contribution to scholarship resides in two fields – the culture of the ancient Hebrews and Jews and that of the modern Middle East including Israel.

He published several hundred articles and more than two dozen books, among them: Ha-Mayim (A Study in Palestinology and Palestinian Folklore, 1936); Ha-Sappanut ha-Ivrit ("Jewish Seafaring in Ancient Times,, 1938); Man and Earth in Hebrew Custom, Belief and Legend (2 vols., 1942–43); Madda ha-Adam ("An Introduction to Anthropology," 2 vols., 1947–48); Man and Temple in Ancient Jewish Myth and Ritual (1947, 19672); Israel Between East and West (1953, 19702); Sex and Family in the Bible and the Middle East (1959); Golden River to Golden Road: Society, Culture and Change in the Middle East (1962, 1967, 1969, 1971); Hebrew Myths (with Robert Graves, 1964); and The Hebrew Goddess (1967). Subsequent works include: The Arab Mind (1973); The Jewish Mind (1977); The Vanished Worlds of Jewry (1980); The Seed of Abraham: Jews and Arabs in Contact and Conflict (1986); Between Budapest and Jerusalem (1992); The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book (1994); and The Jews of Hungary (1995).

Patai also edited a number of important publications, such as: The Republic of Syria (2 vols., 1956); The Republic of Lebanon (2 vols., 1956); The Kingdom of Jordan (19568); Herzl Year Book (1958–65); The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl (5 vols., 1960); Studies in Biblical and Jewish Folklore (with Francis Lee Utley and Dov Noy, 1960); Women in the Modern World (1967); and Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel (2 vols., 1971).

[Tovia Preschel/

Rohan Saxena (2nd ed.)]

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