Thanksgiving: An Investigation of a Pauline Theme, By David W. Pao alt
  • Length: 212 pages
  • Published: October 31, 2002
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 7142
  • ISBN: 9780830871421

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"Be thankful" (Colossians 3:15) is a recurring exhortation in the letters of the apostle Paul. No other New Testament writer gives such a sustained emphasis on thanksgiving—and yet, major modern studies of Paul fail to wrestle with it.

David Pao aims to rehabilitate this theme in this comprehensive and accessible study, a New Studies in Biblical Theology volume. He shows how, for Paul, thanksgiving is grounded in the covenantal traditions of salvation history. To offer thanks to God is to live a life of worship and to anticipate the future acts of God, all in submission to the lordship of Christ. Ingratitude to God is idolatry. Thanksgiving functions as a link between theology, including eschatology, and ethics.

Here Pao provides clear insights into the passion of an apostle who never fails to insist on the significance of both the gospel message and the response this message demands.

Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.

"Very few treatments of this theme in Paul comprehensively reflect on the theology of thanksgiving and how such theology is deeply embedded in Paul's thought, and in the gospel itself. Pao supplies the lack, and does so in a way that is both informed and edifying. His study is not only the stuff of biblical theology and grist for many sermons but will prove to be the occasion for self-examination, repentance and a new resolve to be thankful."

D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Illinois)


Series Preface
Author's Preface

1. Thanksgiving as God-Centeredness
Source and Traditions
Epistolary Thanksgiving
A Cross-Cultural Examination
To Say "Thanks"
Thanksgiving and Worship
Thanksgiving as God-Centeredness

2. Thanksgiving Within the Covenantal Traditions
God and His People
The Past in Covenantal Traditions
The Present in Covenantal Traditions
The Future in Covenantal Traditions
Paul and the Covenantal Traditions
Thanksgiving and the Covenantal Traditions

3. Thanksgiving and Covenantal History
Thanksgiving as Remembrance
Remembrance as a Covenantal Act
Confessing the Mighty Acts of God
Climax of History
"Do This in Remembrance of Me"
The Pauline Gospel
Divine Acts Through Human Agency
Grace and Thanksgiving

4. A Life of Thanksgiving
To Walk in Him
Anti-Idol Polemic
Thanksgiving Offering
In All Circumstances
Redefinition of the Structure of Authority
Covenantal Relationship

5. Thanksgiving and the Future
Faithful and Powerful God
Bridging the Past and the Future
Future as Grounds for Thanksgiving
In Light of the Future

6. Ingratitude
Rejection of the Mighty Acts of God
Forgetting Their Lord and Worshiping Idols
"Do Not Grumble, as Some of Them Did"
"They Neither Glorified Him as God Nor Gave Thanks to Him"
"Lovers of Themselves"

Appendix: Pauline Thanksgiving and the Greco-Roman Benefaction System
The Greco-Roman Patron-Client Network
Gratitude in the Patron-Client Relationship
Pauline Thanksgiving and the Patronage Model

Index of Modern Authors
Index of Biblical References and Ancient Sources
Index of Subjects


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Pao (Ph.D., Harvard University) is assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also written Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus (Mohr Siebeck/Baker).
D. A. Carson

D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.