Review Title: In Defense of Innocent Christians (review of The Advocate by Randy Singer)
Reviewer: Janice S. Garey
The Advocate, by Randy Singer, deserves to be on all Christian reading lists. It qualifies as a classic, in my opinion, and I hope to see it made into a movie. With the authors background in law, and as a bestselling author of legal thrillers, he managed to write a flawless story. It spans the lifetime of Theophilus through the schools, courtrooms, and cultures during the years from before the crucifixion of Jesus to the trial of Paul, and on to the death of Theophilus.
The early scenes of the book delve into the background of the young men who played major roles as the story progressed. The cruelty of young Caligula toward Theophilus prepares the reader for the later brutality of the depictions of gladiators used for Roman entertainment. The author presents interesting contrasts between the Greek and Roman cultures of the day.
The characters in the book appeal to both men and women as their stories unfold. Parallel development of the rise of men and women to the highest realms of power and prestige add fullness and delight for those who enjoy historical details. The classical school system for men, and the system of preparing for life as a Vestal Virgin for young ladies, captures the readers interest. Sacrifices and rewards go hand in hand. Wisdom plays a big part in the book, too, as a philosopher, Seneca, engages frequently with the main character, Theophilus
Questions of trust as alliances arise and falter further engage the reader. The difficulties of being a Christian and always under suspicion during that time period are highlighted. Evolving faith in Jesus and changing attitudes of some characters show spiritual growth. Young love, with its longings and challenges is contrasted to more stable mature love. The end of the book well displays the hope Christians share for what happens at the time of death.
I highly recommend this book for all mature Christians and for people who are interested in the time period for historical reasons. Because of some of the brutality, I would not advise this to be read to younger children. I received the book from bookfun.org in exchange for my honest review after reading it. Truly, it is a classic!
The Advocate by Randy Singer is a great book for those interested in historical stories, set in classical times. He creates a story about a young Roman boy, Theophilus, (mentioned in the scriptures but about whom little is known) who is fortunate to be a student of the famous, Seneca the Younger. The boys rise to the position of an esteemed advocate is the focus of the novel. His life interacts with such historical figures as Agrippa, Claudius, Caligula, Nero, Pilate, and more. Singer interweaves the stories of fictional characters, Flavia and Mansuetus. Flavia is an honored Vestal Virgin, and Mansuetus is an adored and successful gladiator. Their attraction to each other is forbidden by law; yet, they cannot deny their love.
After six years of study in Greece, Theophilus is assigned to serve as an assessore for Pilate in Judea. He accompanies Pilate to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feast of the Passover, and there he encounters the Nazarene. What he advises Pilate in the case of the Nazarene haunts him for the rest of his life. He witnesses the torture and crucifixion of Jesus, and he is ashamed to be a Roman.
Years later after Theophilus is married and has a teen-aged son, he encounters the Apostle Paul. He is asked to defend Paul against Roman charges and is introduced into the movement of the Way which changes his life forever.
The novel includes the horrific and cruel actions of the Romans, the ineffectual and violent leadership of the emperors, the bloody and deplorable Circus games, and conspiracies. However, he depicts the hope and change in the lives of the people who encounter the Nazarene and his followers, like Paul, and even the wife of Pontius Pilate. The novel shares the history of Rome and the emergence of Christianity. The reader feels that he is a part of that time, seeing it as it was, immersed in the drama. As a former Latin teacher, I highly recommend this book which will sweep you up into the stories of Theophilus, Flavia, Mansuetus, and many more well-defined characters. I received this book through TBCN in exchange for an honest review.
"He defied an emperor and inspired a faith." The Advocate is historical fiction, the story of Theophilus, a character about whom very little is known. As a fourteen-year-old Theophilus suffers crucifixion at the hands of his peers, leading to his education continuing in Greece. Through his association with Pontias Pilate he was instrumental in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a decision he later regrets and spends the rest of his life in remorse and atonement. Political and legalistic protocol from that time in history is the focus throughout this well researched book.
Incorporating historical fact with fiction Randy Singer has created a powerful novel that is unforgettable. This book is not for the faint of heart. There is graphic detailing of violence and bloodshed, an open and realistic portrayal of the life and times. Detailing and historical accuracy reveal the author's in-depth research in order to bring this book to fruition. Details in legalism and the customs from this period in history are compelling. This is a tough book to digest, with much to absorb, but well worth the time to read and ponder the events from that period of time.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through The Book Club Network's For Readers Only program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
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.
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.