The Advocate   -     By: Randy Singer
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The Advocate

Tyndale House / 2014 / Paperback

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A first-century legal thriller! At the trial of Christ, brilliant young assessor Theophilus suggests that Pontius Pilate offer to release Barabbas. But the strategy backfires---and an innocent man suffers crucifixion. Three decades later, Theophilus defends Paul against Nero's baseless accusations. Can he mount a defense that will keep another blameless man from execution?

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1414348606
ISBN-13: 9781414348605
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

At the trial of Christ, Theophilus, brilliant young assessore raised in the Roman aristocracy, stands behind Pontius Pilate and whispers, “Offer to release Barabbas.” The strategy backfires, and Theophilus never forgets the sight of an innocent man unjustly suffering the worst of all possible deaths—Roman crucifixion.

Three decades later, Theophilus has proven himself in the legal ranks of the Roman Empire. He has survived the insane rule of Caligula and has weathered the cruel tyrant’s quest to control the woman he loves. He has endured the mindless violence of the gladiator games and the backstabbing intrigue of the treason trials.

Now he must face another evil Caesar, defending the man Paul in Nero’s deranged court. Can Theophilus mount a defense that will keep another innocent man from execution?

The advocate’s first trial altered the course of history. His last will change the fate of an empire.

Editorial Reviews

As a young man, Theophilus had lofty dreams of becoming one of Rome’s elite advocates. After a childhood of privilege and rigorous training he was equipped with the skills needed to seek truth, sway Roman politics, and change the world. At age twenty, Theophilus was appointed as chief legal advisor to Pontius Pilate. It was during this time that Theophilus encountered Jesus and faced his first true test—one in which he failed miserably. When his service to Pilate ended, Theophilus returned to his beloved Rome to find mayhem in the senate and a lethally paranoid emperor. In the midst of this environment, Theophilus begins his career as an advocate—attempting to navigate the treacherous political waters of a failed republic and an insane emperor. With excellent historical details and strong spiritual components, The Advocate brings to life the story of Theophilus.

I first heard about The Advocate last year in an interview with Randy Singer. At the time it sounded fantastically intriguing with an epic scope and unique speculative angle. I couldn’t wait for the chance to read it. Finally, after a year of waiting I had the opportunity to dive in this book and was quite impressed by the imagination and originality of this story.

About eighty percent of The Advocate is told from Theophilus’ first-person perspective and works exceptionally well. I wasn’t anticipating this approach to the story, but it has the intended effect of bringing readers deep into Theophilus’ mind and helping them better understand the various situations he must work through. However, as the book switches from first-person to third-person the voice doesn’t change. As a result, the portions written from the third-person point of view feel disconnected and lack the same intensity other parts of this book are able to achieve.

Aside from this issue, there is really little else to criticize. This is an exceptionally well-written book. The details are amazing and the fictional story of Theophilus feels like a historical event. Additionally, Singer creates an intense and immersive environment where the reader can truly appreciate the intricacies the Roman political scene as well as the uncertainties facing Roman citizens of all classes. The progressive decline of the Roman Empire and its rulers is presented with detail, but streamlined so that the story flows smoothly and does not become cumbersome to read.

In addition to creating a vibrant historical and political setting, Singer expertly portrays the various spiritual ideas of the time. While it’s easy to shake our heads at these ancient beliefs, in The Advocate, the reader gets a real sense of the history and reasons behind why the Romans worshiped as they did. As someone who likes to better understand why people believe what they do, I found these portions of the book absolutely fascinating.

Given the time period in which this book is set, there are some very gritty and difficult scenes. Most readers are familiar with the brutality of the Roman justice system and the senseless death of thousands. But Singer tactfully brings these emotionally charged historical facts into his book. Not surprising, some of these scenes are difficult to read. For the squeamish—reader beware.

I cannot imagine the number of hours Singer spent researching and writing this story. It is one of his finest works and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to read it. I waited a year to read The Advocate and I was not disappointed.

PW Starred review:
Veteran lawyer-author Singer (The Last Plea Bargain) uses the idea advanced elsewhere that the Bible books Luke and Acts were written as legal briefs to defend the Apostle Paul against the Roman emperor Nero. The two biblical books are addressed to an enigmatic Theophilus, (a name meaning “lover of God,”) and Singer develops a fictional Theophilus, a lawyer who stood behind Pilate to advise him to offer up Jesus Christ to be crucified. Theophilus witnesses the lives of Jesus and Paul unfold, and has to decide based on the evidence whether to join the early movement of Jesus followers and become a victim of the great persecution of Nero. Some of the dialog comes directly from Scripture; other speeches are faithful to biblical characters such as Paul: “The most important thing is not that the letter proclaims my innocence but that it proclaims the good news about the Messiah.” Cross James Michener’s great historical fiction with a John Grisham legal thriller, and you’ve got this epic classic by Singer.

Randy Singer has been long known for his pulse-pounding legal thrillers that keep you turning pages late into the night. He manages to balance complex plots with deep and relevant themes, wrapping them around a storyline that pulls you in and doesn’t let go. In fact, you could say that Singer writes like his main characters practice law: with razor-sharp suspense, a dash of danger, and no fear of tackling difficult cases. His newest thriller, The Advocate, is no exception.

The Advocate is unlike anything Singer has ever written, taking readers back two thousand years to the Roman Empire and its famed legal system. It’s here that he introduces us to Rome’s most infamous lawyer—or advocate—a man named Theophilus. The book is really the story of Theophilus’s life and how influenced he was by Jesus of Nazareth. Make no mistake: this may be historical fiction, but it’s still Singer’s unique brand of legal thriller. Only instead of shootouts and corrupt lawyers, you get gladiatorial games and an insane emperor.

Theophilus was the perfect biblical figure for Singer to morph into his titular advocate. We literally know nothing for certain of the person to whom Luke/Acts was written, but many have speculated, based on the way he is addressed, that he was a high-ranking Roman official. Singer, with some actual factual precedent, presents Theophilus as Paul’s advocate before Nero, making Luke/Acts serve as legal evidence in the case. Along the way, we meet characters such as Pontius Pilate, to whom Theophilus serves as an assistant or asessore, the emperors Caligula and Nero, and Jesus himself.

Singer, as a lawyer/pastor/storyteller, has created a story that perfectly honors all three professions. While the story is, obviously, fictional, Singer weaves the story so well that I’m convinced it could all actually have been fact. He is very careful to get his biblical and historical details correct. In fact, what I really want is an annotated version to tell me what we know for sure biblically, what’s accurate historically, and where Singer takes artistic liberty.

Actually, what I really want to do is give this book to every Christian ever because through it, they’ll not only be entertained, they’ll finish it knowing so much more about how their faith interacts with history. Most Christians have this idea of “secular” history (what they get taught in schools) and “Christian” history (what they read in Scripture and are taught in church) and rarely do the twain ever meet. Singer, through the method of fictional story, is able to factually place the early church in context of history better than most history books.

The Advocate is just simply incredible. You may think you know the story, especially since it’s based on history, but Singer still pulls a few surprises. Rarely do I ever say that a book left me awestruck, but I’ll say it for this one. All of Singer’s books have been great, but this one…this one’s special.

Singer is a well-established legal thriller author, but The Advocate takes a huge swing away from this genre into historical fiction as readers follow Theophilus, a real person from the New Testament books of Luke and Acts, on a fictional journey. In doing so, Singer presents a compelling tale based on two real trials: that of Jesus and that of Paul in Nero’s court. This book is a riveting look into ancient Rome and offers parallels to our current political climate.

Since Theophilus’ early days when his prompt “offer to release Barabbas” backfired, he has been haunted by the death of Jesus, an innocent man. Theophilus rises quickly as a defender of the common people oppressed by Roman political powers. He falls in love and has a son who he will do anything to defend. His journey takes him through treason trials, gladiator fights and finally to his greatest trial: against Nero and defending Paul, a Christ follower.

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Displaying items 1-5 of 15
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  1. eb7bibliophile
    High Desert West
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Excellent and Intense Historical Realism
    July 30, 2014
    eb7bibliophile
    High Desert West
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This reminds me of a courtroom drama, only better, with more depth and intensity. Mr. Singer is masterful at drawing us into the world of the first century. The historical scenes and figures were fascinating. He portrayed them from the viewpoint of Theophilus, the advocate, then he created narratives from various other viewpoints, making a compelling drama. He used real figures and added details, extra characters, and dialogue that really sound feasible. I loved the quotations from philosophers. It is a tragic story but has a message of hope. The research really made this exceptional.
  2. bookworm
    Pennsylvania
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Book
    July 19, 2014
    bookworm
    Pennsylvania
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The Advocate by Randy Singer was an interesting novel set at the trial of Jesus. Theophilus is a smart young man who was raised as a Roman aristocrat and works around Pontius Pilate. During the trial, he whispers to Pontius Pilate to offer the crowd of people to release Barabbas in exchange for Jesus. However, this plan doesn't go as was hoped and Jesus's death has affected Theophilus for the rest of his life. About thirty years later, Theophilus has had much success in the empire, endured countless hardships, and survived the cruelties of Roman emperors. However, things are about to get worse when Paul must stand before Nero. Theophilus defends Paul and is determined not to allow another innocent man become victim to Roman justice again. Will Theophilus be able to save Paul from an execution? This was a great novel and I loved the historical aspect of the book and I found the story to be so captivating. Another great book by Randy Singer.
  3. thecraftyhome
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    July 12, 2014
    thecraftyhome
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Oh my were to start with this review. Last year during the Tyndale Summer Reading Program was my first introduction to Randy Singer and I fell in love. He is a former trial attorney and writes gripping legal tales. I have acquired several of his books but this is only the second that I have had time to read. This is an epic novel. He said it took him five years to write and he now has great respect for those who write historical fiction as the research and mindset you have to get in to is a lot of hard work.

    The Advocate is set in Rome during the time of Jesus and afterwards to when Nero is emperor. It follows an advocate (lawyer) named Theophilus. The story starts with him as a teenager going through school and documents is life through being an adviser to Pontius Pilate when Jesus is crucified to Peter being on trial in Rome to Nero persecuting Christians. It goes through so much Roman history and was just fascinating. It felt like I went on this amazing journey by the time the book was over. If you read no other book this summer this is the one you MUST read. It was amazing.
  4. Doc Hilton
    Horseshoe Bend, AR
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Life-Changing Fiction From Randy Singer
    July 9, 2014
    Doc Hilton
    Horseshoe Bend, AR
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Luke, a Greek physician, Christian, and companion of the Apostle Paul, compiled the first 2-volume history of the Christian church. We know them, respectively, as The Gospel Of Luke and The Book Of Acts. You can find them in the New Testament portion of the Bible.

    These books were each addressed to an enigmatic personage, Theophilus. Whether Theophilus was an historical figure, or whether this was a play on words (Theophilus literally means, "Lover of God") is still being debated. Acclaimed author Randy Singer has taken the character of Theophilus and crafted an excellent book that centers around this young man's training and subsequent career as a lawyer in the courts of Rome during the time of Christ.

    As assessore for Pontius Pilate, Theophilus has a ring-side seat as the greatest story ever told unfolds before his very eyes. He is the one who suggested that Pilate offer the release of Barabbas, certain that the crowd would release the innocent man, Jesus, instead.

    The plan backfired, and Theophilus would forever live with the thought that he was instrumental in the death of an innocent man.

    Many years, and two Caesars later, Theophilus is once again tasked with the defense of an innocent man, the Apostle Paul. However, with age comes wisdom, and this time Theophilus can no longer be a disinterested bystander. It's not just Paul's life that hangs in the balance.

    Rich with historical and cultural detail, and passionate with the mental, emotional, and philosophical forces of the day, The Advocate is a book that will help you understand the context of Christianity, and cause you to re-examine your own beliefs concerning the Jesus of history.

    Reviewer's disclaimer: Randy Singer pulls no punches. There are scenes that may be considered too graphic for the younger reader.

    5 stars for life-changing fiction by Randy Singer
  5. Cassandra
    Maine
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    July 7, 2014
    Cassandra
    Maine
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    What a book! I think this is one of my favorites. It was very detailed and fairly historically accurate as far as I could tell. The characters were very real: they had weaknesses and things they regretted doing or saying just like we all do. Despite the suffering the characters endured throughout the course of the book, overall the message is one of hope and victory in Jesus.
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