The Advocate   -     By: Randy Singer
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The Advocate

Tyndale House / 2014 / Paperback

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Product Description

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

2015 Christy Award finalist!
2015 ECPA Christian Book Award Winner!
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 29
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  1. Decatur, GA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    In Defense of Innocent Christians
    May 16, 2015
    Janice Garey
    Decatur, GA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Review Title: In Defense of Innocent Christians (review of The Advocate by Randy Singer)

    Reviewer: Janice S. Garey

    *****5 Stars

    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!

  2. Illinois
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Advocate
    February 13, 2015
    jacquiR
    Illinois
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for The Advocate.
    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.

  3. Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Powerful!
    February 2, 2015
    Nancee
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for The Advocate.
    "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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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