Born in Wendell, Massachusetts, Goddard was the son of the Reverend David and Hannah B. Goddard. He graduated from Brown University in 1835 and from Newton Theological Institute three years later. Ordained to the Baptist ministry, Goddard and his wife, Eliza (Abbot), were appointed by the Baptist Board for Foreign Missions to work with the Chinese in Siam (Thailand) and they sailed in 1839. At Bangkok in 1842 Josiah Goddard succeeded William Dean as pastor of the first Chinese Baptist church, and labored there for six years until his health failed.
In 1848 the Goddards moved to Ningpo (Ningbo), northeast Chekiang (Zhejiang) Province, China. Though suffering from a lung disease, Josiah mastered the Tie-Chu dialect and preached to a new congregation. He was best known for the quality of his translation work, some of which was among the first English to Chinese. From 1842 to 1854 he completed five tracts, a catechism, a vocabulary, and the entire New Testament. The Goddard children, some of whom married members of the William Dean family, produced several generations of Baptist missionaries in China, including Josiah Ripley Goddard, Augusta Fanny Dean, Anna Kate Goddard, Francis Wayland Goddard, and Anna M. Corlies.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Goddard published a number of tracts, including A temperance Tract: An inquirer’s Guide and A history of Elijah. His New Testament in Chinese was first published in 1853 for the American and Foreign Bible Society. A nineteenth-century biographical sketch of Goddard is included in William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit (1860); a more recent biography is Francis W. Goddard, Called to Cathay (1946).