God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola (Book Review)

God’s Favorite Place on Earth

God’s Favorite Place on Earth—the title is quite a bold claim. How could Frank Viola know where God’s favorite place is found?

Well, if you’re expecting a theological treatise on the question, look elsewhere. That’s not really the point of the book. “God’s favorite place” simply refers to Bethany, the town where Jesus always received his warmest welcomes during his earthly ministry.

The book focuses on the events recorded in the four Gospels that took place in this town.

Bethany is where Jesus’ friends Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Simon lived. Bethany is where Jesus healed Simon of his leprosy and where Jesus raised Lazarus back to life. Bethany is where Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and where Mary later anointed Jesus with her costly oil. Bethany is where Martha professed to Jesus, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:27, CJB).

God’s Favorite Place on Earth examines and expounds on such events, but it does it in a way I’ve not seen before. This book is part exposition, part application, and part novel.

Each chapter starts with a novel-like dramatization of the biblical account. I tend to be somewhat wary of such things, due to the excessive liberties often taken. However, I have no complaints about this one. Frank Viola stayed very true to the biblical accounts.

While he filled in the details, he did so in a very reasonable manner, taking into account the cultural and biblical context. Furthermore, he was very upfront about which details are biblical and which details are speculative. I found the narratives to be a very refreshing look at familiar accounts.

Immediately after each dramatization, Frank included the actual biblical text. He used a number of different translations (which I think is great), and in one instance, he even used Johnston M. Cheney’s compiled account from Jesus Christ: The Greatest Life Ever Lived. I’ve written about The Greatest Life before; I think it is an excellent (though little-known) resource, and I’m thrilled to see it being used.

After the dramatization and biblical text, the majority of each chapter is devoted to expositing the text and drawing application from it. The lessons are both convicting and encouraging. And everything is thoroughly biblical.

I can’t think of a fellow believer who would not benefit from this book. It was an enjoyable and edifying read, and I believe it will be a great help to many as they seek to follow Christ. I give my full recommendation to God’s Favorite Place on Earth.

As an added bonus, if you order the book from May 1 to May 7, Frank Viola is offering 25 free gifts along with it. Go to godsfavoriteplace.com to find out how to get them.

I’d like to thank Frank Viola for sending me a free copy of the book to review.