I decided to challenge myself with some more academically focussed books. Thanksgiving : an investigation of a Pauline theme by David Pao is part of the New Studies in Biblical Theology Series which seeks to address key issues in biblical theology. The authors draw on scholarly literature but aim to write without excessive jargon. While I enjoyed the material in Thanksgiving, it wasn’t a light or quick read. I would have liked some practical illustrations of what it looks like to live a life of thanksgiving, nevertheless, Pao does an excellent job of explaining thanksgiving from the Apostle Paul’s perspective.

To some extent Pao expected his readers to have some knowledge of current research into biblical topics and how theologians understand Paul’s theology, which I didn’t, however, this didn’t distract from the content.

I appreciated Pao’s understanding that being thankful isn’t so much about saying thank you to those who do us a service or remembering past blessings, but rather an attitude which is God-centred and acknowledges God as Lord of all. Thanksgiving moves us away from focussing on ourselves and leads us into obedience to God’s will. It’s an expression of faith and a response to the immeasurable grace of God. Thanksgiving is often connected to remembering God’s faithfulness.

Pao also touches on the thought that as New Testament believers who are no longer required to offer animal sacrifices, we’re still expected to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. Paul expected the recipients of his letters, to be full of thanks because their lives had been transformed by the Gospel. When this happens it leads to more thankfulness because many will see the goodness of God in the lives of believers and respond with gratitude.

Overall a helpful read.