Benjamin Peach Keasberry was born in Hyderabad in British India in 1811. He studied theology in New Jersey, USA where he learnt New Testament Greek. At seminary he also met and married his wife Charlotte Parker. They came back to the East and reached Macao on 20th February 1839. Keasberry and his wife were denied entry into China and went on another ship and disembarked at Singapore.
Keasberry in Singapore
The Keasberrys became involved with the Malay work with the London Missionary Society (LMS). Keasberry learnt Malay and started Malay language church services.
In 1843 Keasberry acquired a piece of land in Kampong Bencoolen (now Prinsep Street) and set up the Malay Mission Chapel, which is now called Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church (PSPC). Keasberry wrote, published and translated many works into Malay. As the number of Malay Christians grew he realised the need for a suitable translation of the Scriptures into High Malay, which could command the prestige and respect of people from a non‐Christian background.
Keasberry New Testament
The British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) asked Keasberry to oversee the production of a new Malay New Testament. With the assistance of S. Dyer, J. Evans and the native Munshi Abdullah, the New Testament in Romanised High Malay was published for BFBS at the Mission Press in Singapore in 1853. The title page read: “Kitab Alkudus: Iya Itu Injil Isa Al‐masih, Tuhan Kami. The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in Malay. Diligently compared and revised. 1853.” It was written in a form of High Malay which was understandable and attractive to Malay people who were mainly from a non‐Christian tradition. It was further revised by Keasberry in 1866. Three of the Gospels were also printed separately as Injil Mathias, Injil Lukas and Injil Yahya in Arabic and in Roman script.
Keasberry died in 1875, after 36 years of mission on Singapore. He was buried in Singapore.
The 1866 Keasberry New Testament text was digitised with the help of MissionAssist in 2017. This was done to mark the 180th anniversary of the Singapore Bible Society.
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