Often times when we approach the story of scripture, we don’t realize the depth of the story that we are entering. When Jesus was here on earth, there was so much more going on that what is recorded in scripture. John even says so at the end of his gospel. It’s that depth that Frank Viola is exploring in God’s Favorite Place on Earth. The story element of his book is written in first person narrative from the perspective of Lazarus. Through the voice of Lazarus, Viola writes how Bethany was Jesus’ favorite place to stay when he lived on earth. He was welcomed by the people, developed deep friendships, performed a great miracle, and even ascended to heaven in the town of Bethany. After writing the story half, the other half of each chapter is a reflection on the text and application to our lives today.
Overall, this is a very interesting book. It approaches scripture in a faithful manor, but asks us to look at it from a different angle. It’s not the typical way of interacting with the biblical story. I enjoyed seeing if from a different perspective. Through is different perspective, we see that there is more to each story than meets the eye. Even though it’s different, he does his best to retell the story in a manor faithful to scripture combined with the best scholarly research about the stories that he retells. Whether Viola’s story from Lazarus’ perspective is entirely accurate or not, it is compelling. I believe that seeing scripture from a different angle like Viola has done, allows us to reencounter texts that we have read so many times with a new perspective.
I would recommend reading this book. It would be a great supliment to a personal Bible study or a group bible study. Viola even recommends this book to groups for study. The only caution I would give is that the middle chapters of this book are lengthy. For some, it would be no problem to read this over the course of a week, for others the length of the chapters might be difficult. I even found them to be a bit wordy. I think that in some places, it could have been shorter. Aside from the length, however, this is a fascinating read that will help you to interact with familiar scriptures in a new way.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from David C. Cook through netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”