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 26
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  1. West Palm Beach, FL
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Awesome Story!
    January 22, 2015
    Jean
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    Since I had read one other book by this author and thoroughly enjoyed it, I was anxious to read this book, especially when I learned that it revolved around the drama of an attorney (advocate), as I love legal themes. I was not disappointed. I LOVED this book! Although it is centered around the time of Christ, it did not focus on the story that we all know. It portrayed the legal system in that era and allowed the reader to witness the many examples of how "justice" was handled. It brought the leaders that ruled the people, to life, giving us a taste of not only the events of the times, but the huge difference between how sentences were meted out at that time vs today. So often, I wanted to shout out my frustration at reading the outcome of the trials of the defendants and how the defendants were at the mercy of these emperors and their "handlers".

    Aside from the legalities, there were so many exciting twists and turns that held you riveted to the story. It centered around Theophilus, who assisted Pontius Pilate at the sentencing of Jesus Christ. He felt that he made a mistake in the advice that he gave Pilate and spent the rest of his life regretting it and attempting to make up for it. Wonderful, wonderful story!!!

    I highly recommend this book. I received this book from the author through bookfun.org in exchange for my honest review.
  2. Age: 35-44
    Gender: Female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Very Different from His Other Work
    January 13, 2015
    eLynda
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    I have read several of Randy Singers books in the past, including one for my book club. After reading it, we were able to have a chat over the internet with him about what we read; from the time of that discussion, I have been eagerly anticipating this latest novel, The Advocate. It differs from his other work in several ways, most notably in its historical setting.

    The detail and setting are incredible. I learned a lot about life during Biblical times, especially how difficult and fearful it was to live in opposition, even secret opposition, to Caesar. The story spans four different Caesars: Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. Just the breadth of time in this novel is impressive, and we are witness to many events in Roman history, following the fictional character Theophilus through the course of his life, from student to retired advocate, or lawyer.

    Theophilus is a well-drawn character, very fleshed-out, very human. He is largely an honorable man who tries to do the right thing in the right way, despite living in a dangerous and often vicious culture. He makes mistakes, but this adds to the realism, and he struggles with many things that still plague people today.

    For me, the best part of this novel was reading a fictionalized perspective of the trial of Jesus before Pilate, and then later, of Paul before Nero. I learned many new things about how trials worked at the time, and even gained some insights that deepened my understanding of the Biblical accounts, too.

    I would recommend this novel to historical fans, especially those of Biblical fiction, but with a caveat: due to its sometimes graphic content, I would suggest it is appropriate for mature readers who arent disturbed by details of crucifixion, torture, and a few descriptions of pagan worship in Rome.

    While Singers fans will go willingly down this historical path with him, I would not necessarily recommend it for those who devour other modern legal thrillers as this book is very different from his other work; fans of Biblical fiction, however, may be encouraged to try other novels he has written after reading The Advocate.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network (bookfun.org) in exchange for this honest review.
  3. Norfolk, NE
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Perservance for the sake of the Gospel
    December 30, 2014
    Shai
    Norfolk, NE
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The Advocate is an intense historical story that takes fictional liberty with a little known Biblical person. Mr. Singer does an excellent job of setting the stage of what could have been with the back story of Theophilus and what he might have experienced during his lifetime.

    The story opens with 14 year old Theophilus and carries through as he matures. Along the way, Theophilus encounters Christos and the followers of the Way. All the characters and plots are well incorporated. As a reader, its easy to cheer for the underdogs (Theophilus and Flavia). The story is not an easy read and the material is hard to stomach at times. The horrific tortures Nero encouraged are beyond comprehension. I found myself becoming enraged by the treatment that followers of the Way experienced. However, it was a good reminder that even in todays world the followers of the Way are persecuted.

    The story is engaging and it was easy to put myself in Theophilus shoes as I read and I could feel myself becoming invested in the story. I have read and enjoyed other books by Mr. Singer and this one also held my interest as he kept with his lawyer type of writing style. I would recommend this book to any current Randy Singer fans as well as those interested in legal and historical fiction. It is also a great book for those interested in biblical history. With a powerful story, Mr. Singer makes the truth of history come alive with a creative encounter. The Advocate is a powerful, intense story that will leave the reader with a sense of sorrow for the past but gratitude for the perseverance of the brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to carry the gospel regardless of the consequences.

    I received this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

  4. Minnesota
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Excellent read
    December 12, 2014
    Mary
    Minnesota
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "The Advocate" by Randy Singer is a work of historical fiction, (based on historical facts), yet it is so very real! I love how Singer has taken a little known biblical character and created an entire world for him. "The Advocate" starts out with the childhood of Theophilus and continues through his adult years.

    As a young man Theophilus was involved in the trial of Jesus, which he carried many mixed feelings and regrets about. As we follow Theophilus over the years we watch his career take off, and then be damaged as he stands up for the underdogs of society. Then, comes the trial of a simple man named Paul! I was fascinated by all the information, so scripturaly accurate, about the life and trials of Paul.

    While I occasionally found "The Advocate" to be a bit long and drawn out (almost 500 pages), I also found it to be quite informative and interesting. The book definitely contains some violence (crucifixions, gladiators fighting to the death, etc.), but that was only a small part of the story. If you like historical fiction based on facts, this is a great book for you!

    I received this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
  5. Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Book!
    December 11, 2014
    maciemollysdad
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    As a big fan of Randy Singer's legal thrillers I found this particular book to be very different from his usual work. I always like it when an author takes a break from what they usually do & this book wasn't an exception.
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