1819  — 1892

John Van Nest Talmage

American missionary to Amoy China who translated Christian literature into the local language.

An American minister with the Dutch Reformed Church, Talmage went to Amoy (Xiamen), Fukien (Fujian), China, in 1847. There he was instrumental in solidifying and expanding the new American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions/Dutch Reformed Church mission. Hoping to make the Bible more accessible to the general population, he and his colleague, Elihu Doty, developed a romanized script of the local Amoy language. Talmage then used this new script to produce literacy materials and to translate Christian literature and many books of the New Testament. He completed the Amoy Colloquial Dictionary shortly after his return to the United States in 1889.


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.


  • Report of the ABCFM 42 (1851): 126, and 47 (1856): 167; P. W. Pitcher, Fifty Years in Amoy; or a History of the Amoy Mission, China (1893).

About the Author

Cindy Swanson Choo

Intercultural Specialist, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, New Haven, Connecticut, USA