The Advocate

The Advocate

4.7 26
by Randy Singer
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

Overview

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

Publishers Weekly
★ 04/28/2014
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. (May)
RT Book Reviews
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.

RT Book Reviews Tyndale House Publishers
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.

The Christian Manifesto
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.

LifeIsStory
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781414390789
Publisher:
Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
04/18/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
297,243
File size:
8 MB

Read an Excerpt

THE ADVOCATE

A NOVEL


By RANDY SINGER

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Randy Singer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-9130-4


CHAPTER 1

IN THE ELEVENTH Y EAR OF THE R EIGN OF TIBERIUS JULIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS


I was fourteen years old when I learned what it meant to be crucified.

We hauled our own crossbeams, the twelve of us, students of Seneca the Younger, dragging them at least five miles down the cobble stones of the Appian Way. The day was hot and dry. Dust settled in our mouths and noses. I ground my teeth and felt the fine particles of dirt. I licked my dry lips, trying to moisten the thick white spit at the edge of my mouth. Sweat trickled down my face. Seneca marched ahead of us, carrying nothing but his waterskin, his sweat-soaked tunic sticking to his thick back. My own tunic was wet and grimy. My sandals squished with every step.

I had started out carrying my crossbeam, hoisting it across my thin shoulders, but I soon gave up and dragged it like most of the other students. It weighed nearly as much as me. The rough wood chafed my back, so I switched it from one shoulder to the other as I pulled it along. The only one who wasn't dragging his beam was Lucian, two years older than the rest of us and built like a gladiator. He balanced his beam on his shoulders, yet even Lucian was starting to stoop from the load.

To make it seem real, Seneca had arranged for a Roman legionnaire to bring up the rear. He was a humorless man, stocky and unshaven with nasty breath and a spiteful attitude. This was his chance to bark orders at the sons of aristocrats as if we were common slaves. If we stopped, he gave us a hard shove and cursed us. He took big gulps of water, taunting us with how refreshing it was, then spit much of it on the ground.

"When my parents learn of this, they'll have Seneca's head," Lucian said under his breath.

I was sure Seneca wasn't worried. His job was to mold us into young men fit to be Roman senators or commanders or magistrates. This was nothing compared to the military training that many of my contemporaries would be facing in a few years. Still, we were the sons of senators and equestrians, so we cast annoyed glances at each other. Who does this man think he is, humiliating us this way?

Caligula had the lightest beam to carry. Naturally. He was my age but a few inches taller, with spindly legs and a long, thin neck. His head, topped off with curly red hair, seemed oversized for his body. Caligula had a mean streak, so I generally kept my distance. There was an unwritten rule that he was never to be crossed—not because we feared the spoiled young man himself, but because we feared his family.

His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus. He had been born on the battlefield in Gaul, the son of the great general Germanicus and his wife, Agrippina. It was the soldiers who had dubbed him Caligula, which meant "little sandals." He became a good luck charm of sorts for Germanicus's troops, and they would let him march into battle with them, staying near the rear of the lines. He was the great-nephew of the emperor and might one day be emperor himself if his mother managed to poison all the right relatives.

He was also a bully.

He had been taunting my friend Marcus earlier in the walk, taking his frustrations out on the smallest among us. Now he was just plain tired.

"This is outrageous," Caligula said more than once. Unlike Lucian, he said it loud enough for Seneca to hear. Yet our teacher ignored him and kept on walking. A few times Caligula stopped, and the legionnaire pushed him, though not as hard as he shoved the rest of us.

I kept my head down and focused on each step, counting to one hundred and then starting over again. I was in my usual spot at the front of the class, not far behind Seneca.

It was nearly noon when Seneca finally stopped by an open pasture on the side of the road near a small, cool stream. I dropped my beam on the ground and bent over, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath.

Seneca allowed us to get a drink and told us to sit on our crossbeams. He stood in the middle of our little band. The sun nearly blinded me as I looked up at him.

Seneca wiped the sweat from his eyes and began the day's lesson. The legionnaire stood next to him, arms folded across his chest, scowling.

"You have all heard of the Third Servile War," Seneca said, "when Spartacus led a two-year slave rebellion against Rome. The Senate didn't take the slave rebellion seriously until it became clear that Rome itself was under threat."

Some of my friends fidgeted on their beams, trying to get comfortable after the long walk. Not me. I could listen to Seneca all day. His curly hair, round baby face, and small blue eyes made him seem as harmless as a child. But he had a commanding voice, and I loved his wit and cynicism in the same way that I imagined Cicero's students had once loved him. Armies destroyed people, and gladiators entertained them, but orators like Cicero and Seneca inspired them. One day I would do the same.

"Marcus Licinius Crassus was the richest man in the Senate, perhaps the richest man in Roman history," Seneca continued. "He had more than five hundred slaves and was an expert in architecture. He knew how to control fires by destroying the burning buildings and curtailing the spread of flames to nearby homes. When fire struck Rome, Crassus and his men ran to the flames and offered an option to the surrounding property owners. They could sell to young Crassus on the spot at a discounted rate, or they could watch their houses go up in flames. As soon as they shook hands on the deal, Crassus's slaves would extinguish the fire, and Crassus would reap his rewards."

"Brilliant," Caligula said.

Seneca shot him a look, but I knew Caligula didn't care.

"At the height of his wealth, Crassus was worth more than 200 million sestertii. And because he had built his fortune on the backs of slaves, he had a great incentive to quash Spartacus's rebellion. Since Rome's best generals were fighting in foreign lands, Crassus raised his own army to march against Spartacus and the rebel slaves. The first several battles did not go well for Crassus. At the first sign of trouble, his men abandoned their weapons and fled. To improve morale, Crassus revived the ancient practice of decimation. Lucian, what does that mean?"

"I am sorry, Master Seneca. What does what mean?"

Seneca let a few beats of silence show his displeasure. "Decimation. What is the origin of that word?"

Lucian frowned. "I do not know."

"Anyone?" Seneca asked.

I knew the answer, but I had learned long ago that it was sometimes better to hold my tongue. I kept my eyes down while Seneca surveyed the group.

"Decimate comes from the root word decimare, which means to take or destroy one-tenth," Seneca explained. He moved closer to us, and the sun behind him seemed to make him glow. "So Crassus divided his Roman legions into groups of ten and had them draw lots. The one to whom the lot fell would be stripped of his armor and beaten to death by the other nine. The fighting spirit of his troops increased dramatically. Crassus had demonstrated that he was more dangerous to them than their enemies."

Seneca now had everyone's attention. In my mind, I imagined the twelve of us drawing lots and the loser being beaten to death by the others. I didn't think I could bring myself to do it.

"Eventually, Crassus's men cornered Spartacus and his army. Spartacus wanted to engage Crassus in battle, slaughtering his way toward the general's position. But the overwhelming numbers were too much for the slaves. Spartacus died in battle before he reached Crassus. Six thousand slaves were captured."

I had been taught for as long as I could remember to despise Spartacus and the bloody revolt he had started. The uprising was an affront to every Roman citizen. But there was always a part of me that cheered for the slaves—my natural desire to root for the disadvantaged. I secretly wished that Spartacus had been able to run the gauntlet and engage Crassus one-on-one, the way real men fight.

"Crassus wanted to make sure no slave in the empire would ever revolt again," Seneca said. "And so he perfected the art of crucifixion."

He paused for effect, and we all knew something unusual was coming. It was why our parents paid handsomely for us to attend this school. Seneca was famous for his memorable stunts.

"Even though you're not old enough to attend the games and see the live executions there, I'm sure many of you have seen criminals hanging on crosses outside the walls of the city. Still, I thought it might be interesting for Gallus to tell you how it's done."

The legionnaire named Gallus stepped forward, directly in front of where I was sitting. Why is it always me? I stared at the black hair on his legs, the worn sandals, the calloused feet.

"Stand up!" he said gruffly.

I stood, looking him squarely in the eye.

He picked up my crossbeam and placed it in the middle of the group. He pulled a hammer from his belt and a long, sharp spike from his sack.

"Lie down on the beam," he said. "Arms stretched out on the wood."

I looked at Seneca, who nodded slightly.

"Need any help?" Caligula asked the legionnaire.

"You want to take his place?" Gallus shot back.

"Not really."

"Then shut up."

I lay down on the beam, arms stretched wide, keeping an eye on Gallus. The legionnaire knelt beside me, hammer in one hand, spike in the other. "We use six-inch spikes," he said, pressing the point against my left wrist.

"Come here and hold this," he said to another student. It was Marcus, my skinny friend. Because he had struggled carrying his beam, he had been berated by Gallus most of the morning.

Marcus got up and held the spike over my wrist, his hand trembling.

"Nervous?" Gallus asked him.

"Yes, sir."

"You've got nothing to worry about. It's your friend here who should be worried."

Gallus snorted a laugh, but I wasn't concerned. I knew Seneca would only let this go so far. Maybe the soldier would draw a little blood, but Seneca would never let him drive a spike through my wrist.

"We've found," Gallus said, eyeing the other boys, "that when we sever the nerve that runs up your wrist, it causes unbearable pain. Plus, when we put the spike here, it's lodged between two bones, so it won't just rip out of the arm."

"The pain is so severe," Seneca said helpfully, "that a new word was invented to describe it. Our word excruciatus literally means 'out of the cross.'"

Gallus went on to explain the details of the process. How the feet would be impaled. How the prisoner would literally suffocate, his body sagging under its own weight as he lost the strength to push up against the nails in order to draw breath. "We usually let 'em hang for about three days. They typically die on the second day, and then the birds have a snack on day three. Any questions?"

There were none.

Gallus swung his hammer. I closed my eyes and cringed. He stopped it a few inches from the spike and laughed. He allowed me to get up and return on wobbly knees to my original spot as he described all the configurations he and his fellow soldiers had used to crucify prisoners.

"Okay," Seneca finally said, "I think they've got the picture."

Gallus stepped back, and Seneca continued the lesson. "Crassus still holds the record," Seneca said. "He put six thousand men on crosses, every one of the slaves he had captured, and lined the Appian Way with them—from here all the way back to Rome."

The teacher paused and let the enormity of that sink in. We had been walking for miles. At one time this entire distance had been lined with dying men.

"Crassus and his men rode through the gauntlet of the crucified, while the slaves cried out for mercy, begging to be thrust through with a spear. Cheering crowds greeted Crassus in Rome, where he was crowned with a laurel wreath and hailed as a triumphator. He sacrificed a white bull at the temple of Jupiter, and the entire city celebrated for days. It was said that three days after the slaves' bodies were discarded, you could still smell the stench."

Seneca looked over our heads, down the Appian Way, as if he could imagine the scene. "And so I have a question for you," he said, his voice lower. "Should Romans crucify people? Is this the type of conduct befitting the most advanced civilization the world has ever known?"

I was looking at Seneca, but I noticed Gallus out of the corner of my eye. He seemed to stiffen at the very suggestion that his cherished method of execution might be open to question.

I hoped Seneca wouldn't call on me. Everything inside me said that crucifixion was not worthy of the glory of Rome. How could we inflict such torture on our enemies? What separated us from the barbarians when we committed such acts? And what about the innocent men condemned to die for something they didn't do? Our system of justice wasn't perfect.

But I didn't want to seem weak in front of my classmates. Seneca's little display, complete with Gallus as a prop, was designed to show us how horrible it was to die this way. Yet we were Romans. We weren't supposed to flinch in the face of death, no matter how horrible. One sign of manhood was being able to stomach this kind of gore, even relish it.

"I'll answer that," Caligula said, standing.

"Very well, Gaius," Seneca replied. He never used his pupil's nickname.

"Have there been any slave revolts since the triumph of Crassus over Spartacus?" Caligula asked. The question, of course, was a rhetorical one, a method of argumentation that Seneca had taught us.

"I was born on a battlefield," Caligula continued. "I have seen wars. Men die. Their heads are cut off and their guts are ripped out. Only the strong survive. There is nothing pretty about it and nothing philosophical to debate."

That last comment was a dig at Seneca, and I wondered what he would do about it. As usual, our teacher didn't flinch.

"The only criticism I have of Crassus," Caligula continued, "is that he wasted a lot of good wood on a bunch of slaves."

He stood there for a moment, proud of his wit. He smirked and sat down.

Seneca scanned the young faces before him. "Does anybody disagree?" he asked.

I knew I should stay seated. Nothing would be gained from picking a fight with Caligula. Lucian would undoubtedly come to Caligula's defense—if not now, then later, when Seneca wasn't looking. Others would join them because they were intimidated by them. The only student who might agree with me would be little Marcus, and having him on my side was sometimes more trouble than it was worth.

But I couldn't be silent, could I? If I held my tongue now, what would I do when the stakes really mattered?

I stood, certain that Caligula was rolling his eyes. "I disagree," I said as forcefully as possible.

"For some reason, Theophilus," Seneca said, "I am not the least bit surprised."

CHAPTER 2

I faced Seneca, trying to block the other boys out of my peripheral vision. I knew I should be careful because Caligula was petulant and didn't like to be made the fool. But when I had an audience, I couldn't resist showing off a little.

I stood to my full height and spoke using my orator's voice, as Seneca had taught me.

"'Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies and who believe this to be great and manly,'" I said. "'Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.'"

A few of my classmates groaned at my eloquence. No matter; Seneca had taught me not to be distracted by a hostile audience.

"Those are the words of Cicero, and those are also words of truth and reason," I said proudly. "Roman virtues should include not only justice and courage but forgiveness and mercy."

"Spoken like someone who has never seen a battle, never seen a friend decapitated by a barbarian," Seneca countered. He paced a little, gauging the expressions of the students. "Cicero, not coincidentally, had never seen the battlefield either. So doesn't young Gaius have a point? Rome did not conquer the world with etiquette and Senate resolutions. We extended our civilization, including our cherished adherence to Roman law, by brutal force."

Seneca locked his eyes on me. "How can one claim to honor the law yet not support the forms of punishment that ensure others will follow it?" He pointed behind me to the Appian Way. "Roads like that do not appear from thin air. They are built. Built by slaves, as was your father's estate, Theophilus. There can be no advance without civilization, no civilization without order, and no order without punishment."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from THE ADVOCATE by RANDY SINGER. Copyright © 2014 Randy Singer. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned nine legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel Directed Verdict. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"--part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and ethics at Regent Law School and serves on the school's Board of Visitors. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his Web site at www.randysinger.net.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Advocate 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
BeachNana8 More than 1 year ago
This is an unusual legal thriller by Randy Singer because it involves the historical details of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus as well as the growth of Christianity even as people faced incredible torture for their faith. It opens with two boys who are part of a small group of boys being privately tutored around the time of Christ’s birth. One boy Nero who would become Emperor acted cruelly toward his classmate and the classmate was left tied to a cross until strangers on the road helped him escape. Years later that boy who knew how bad the cross was would be standing beside Pilate when Pilate sentenced Jesus to die. Later he would return to Rome where Nero was emperor, Christianity was spreading, and he’d have to decide what he believed. It is fiction mixed with some true facts and is truly an interesting book to read.
J4Life5 More than 1 year ago
I love books like this that make history come alive. I think it is possible to read the Bible and believe wholeheartedly that it is true and still not quite grasp the concept that the stories in it happened to real people. At least it is for me. I tend to get lost in searching for Biblical truth and life application and lose the human interest. Likewise, it is possible to read history books about how Nero persecuted Christians without fully comprehending that these Christians were men and women with children and families. This is why I enjoy reading historical fiction so much. Singer obviously completed a lot of research in the process of writing this book. In fact, it took five years to complete, according to the afterword at the end of the book. Those five years showed in the amount of historical facts Singer used in the book. What I found most interesting was Theophilis witnessing Jesus's final days in Jerusalem. It was different from anything I have read before and it make the events come alive for me. The entire book made history come alive and I learned things about Roman culture that I was not previously aware of. I enjoyed it very much. Although it is a lengthy book of over 400 pages, it is so interesting that it didn't take long to read. Of course, realism has its drawbacks. This book is quite real and Singer does not shy aware from the description of torture and the effect of crucifixion on the body is difficult to read. Some scenes were very difficult to read and were a little nauseating. I found that I was gritting my teeth just to get through some scenes. Fainthearted readers beware. Some teens might wish to read this book, but parents might want to pre-read it and be ready to discuss it with their teens. Singer delivers his usual descriptive flair in this book and I thought it was a great book. Although the difficult scenes were hard to read, they were real. These actual events may not have happened in exactly the way Singer described, but it is true that Nero persecuted and killed Christians in the arena. If you are looking to have a more complete picture of Roman times in the time of the early church, this is a great book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
JennieWren More than 1 year ago
Compelling story of a time in history The advocate, Theophilis, was raised in the Roman aristocracy and trained in rhetoric and debate by the very finest. One of his first positions is advising Pontius Pilate, where he is part of one of the trials of Jesus Christ. He offers Pilate a word of advice, which backfires horribly when the innocent man is sent to a cruel death by crucifixion. This mistake haunts him. Thirty years later, having proved himself in his profession, he has the opportunity for redemption when he takes the case of Paul of Tarsus, defending him in front of the Emperor Nero. But Theophilus wonders if he can form a defense that will keep this innocent man from execution. Randy Singer, who has written several legal thrillers, uses the theory that the books of Luke and Acts were written as legal briefs to defend Paul against Nero. These two books of the Bible are addressed to Theophilus, but very little is known about him. Singer develops a fictional Theophilus with dialogue directly from Holy Scripture and writing other speeches that are faithful to biblical people 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." The book was compelling from the very first and held my rapt attention throughout. I could easily feel myself in Rome during that time and wished I could speak with Paul and the other early Christians myself.
LanguageTCH More than 1 year ago
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 boy’s 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.
NanceeMarchinowski More than 1 year ago
Powerful! "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.
pepperjack2 More than 1 year ago
Randy Singer has gone to some early legal roots by putting his protagonist in 1st century Rome. Theophilus is a lawyer, first for Pilate in Judea and then defending others in front of the Caesars who sit as as judges. Those familiar with the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, also written by Luke, to a person named or called Theophilus will find this fascinating. Singer doesn't just stay with those accounts; he knits Roman history and culture into the fabric of the story making the whole period come alive with Roman and Greek philosophy, art and politics. I can't speak to his accuracy. The author's website deals with some of those issues. Only one suggestion: Singer could have stopped the story earlier than he did, leaving us in suspense as to the outcome, and the literati debating what was going to happen next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very Different from Much of His Work I have read several of Randy Singer’s 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 aren’t disturbed by details of crucifixion, torture, and a few descriptions of pagan worship in Rome.   While Singer’s 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 in exchange for this honest review.
ShareeS More than 1 year ago
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, it’s 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 today’s 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.
alfFL More than 1 year ago
Read The Advocate and become immersed in Roman Culture from Tiberius to Nero. But most of all, you will feel Christ's sufferings and the first Christians great faith in the face of hatred, and brutality leveled against them by the ignorant and self-serving. If this doesn't bring to closer to God and your own faith, nothing will.
rlighthouse More than 1 year ago
Excellent Book!   After reading my first Randy Singer book last year I was hooked and set out to read all of his published books. The Advocate did not disappoint.  Singer took his legal thriller writing style and wrote about Theophilus, a young man from the New Testament.  Theophilus while a real person in the Bible is used as a fictional character in this book as he embarks on his journey of rising in the legal ranks of Rome.  He is there while Jesus is tried and crucified and personally feels the pain of the crucifixion after his former classmates tried to crucify him. He feels the pain of not being able to save him when he suggested Barrabbas as a trade hoping the angry mob would choose Jesus. I really enjoyed this book- the author has a way of drawing the reader into what ever situation he writes about and providing all the details needed so that they feel they are really a part of the story.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Randy Singer in his book “The Advocate” published by Tyndale House Publishers gives us a legal thriller featuring Theophilus from The Bible. From the Back Cover:  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. Ever wonder who  Theophilus is when you read the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts? Remember that when Luke was writing what we consider those two books was really just one long letter. And it is believed to be a legal brief in defense of the Apostle Paul whom  Theophilus was defending before Nero. Now Randy Singer has taken that bit of information and expanded it into one of the best historical fiction novels I think I have ever read. Mr. Singer is always good for a wonderful read however I think, this time, he has outdone himself. “The Advocate” is entertaining and will have you flipping pages as fast as you can read but, be prepared, it is also thought-provoking.  This is a multi-faceted story with interconnected subplots that will keep you guessing until the end.  I do not recommend starting this book late at night because it will cost you sleep as you will not want to put it down.  Randy Singer is an excellent writer and knows how to twist your nerve endings as he tightens the suspense.  I recommend this book highly! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
AnotherBibliophile More than 1 year ago
Excellent and Intense Historical Realism. 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.
thedeena63 More than 1 year ago
Epic. If I had to sum up "The Advocate" in one word, that would be it. Randy Singer has crafted some deeply moving and exhilarating legal thrillers, but nothing compares to this sweeping saga that combines history with story and brings the time of Paul to life. I've always been fascinated by dear Theophilus, the person Luke penned his gospel for. I've encountered him in other historical fiction, but never like this. From his early days as a student of the philosopher Seneca until his final years as a premiere advocate of Rome, THIS is the story of Theophilus. Like any great work of fiction, you must take your time and savor each page. Some scenes are so intense that I had to put the book down and walk away, just to give myself enough time to soak it all in. I was swept up into the world of ancient Rome and the Caesars, and thrilled with the majesty of this novel. If Randy never writes another book, he has penned a masterpiece that deserves to be considered a classic. But he must write more, because I'm a huge fan! Still, this is the book he was created to write, and I'm so glad he took the time to tell the story of "The Advocate". I purchased my copy, but you can get yours from Tyndale House Publishers direct, or your local bookstore. Just don't miss this one...it's going to be the best of 2014...maybe even of the decade.
Miss_CindyH More than 1 year ago
I have mixed thoughts about this book.  I really like Randy Singer as an author.  I've enjoyed everyone of his legal thrillers.  I had a very hard time getting into The Advocate.  I think it's because it's not a time period nor a topic I would usually choose. It is historical fiction.  Singer developed a fictional life story about Theophilus who is the original recipient of books of Luke and Acts.  About 3/4 of the book was all ancient Roman history; gods, emperors, roles, activities, lifestyles, etc.  Once the story actually turned to The Apostle, I was glad I stuck with it.  Theophilus's role in Paul's trial and how it changed his family's lives kept me reading.  To me the last 1/4 of the book was like Scripture and history coming together to tell a riveting story.  The Advocate was well written and well developed.  To fans of history, especially Roman history, it's a book well worth the read.  
thecraftyhome1 More than 1 year ago
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.
kristen4mk More than 1 year ago
Author Randy Singer's book, "The Advocate" is a powerful story covering about five decades during the reign of Rome. Mr. Singer is a great storyteller in general (you'll like them all, my personal favorites are "The Judge" and "Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales") but typically bases his novels on present day fiction. This is his first piece of historical fiction. This novel tells the story of Theophilus, the person referenced in Luke & the book of Acts ("Most Excellent Theophilus"). We begin with a powerful sentence, "I was fourteen years old when I learned what it meant to be crucified" - and the story races off from there. Spanning decades during the time period that include the crucifixion of Christ (Theophilus is portrayed as Pilate's assessore, or advisor during that time), his time as an advocate defending cases he believes in, the reign of numerous Emperors, the rise of the "Way" or what was the early church, to the burning of Rome...this is a novel not to be missed. Full of intrigue, humor, suspense, and emotion, you will definitely want to read this book.
Steve_Doc_Hilton More than 1 year ago
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
givemethebible More than 1 year ago
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.
Marika061012 More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from the very start! The extensive research, the gripping plot, the easy-to-read writing style, the believable characters you end desperately rooting for, and the message of the Gospel all combined so well to make a truly amazing book. It has become a new favorite of mine that I will definitely return to re-read in the future. I highly, highly recommend it!
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
The Advocate really had me interested at the beginning. It started off with the young Roman Theophilius and continues on with his life story. I was fascinated with the Roman’s point of view of Jesus and his ultimate crucifixion. After that part of the book, it really slowed down for me. When Theophilius meets with Paul and represented him at trial, the pace picked up a bit. It was quite fascinating to see the author’s vision of how it was like for how the then new Christian movement began and took off. Especially, how those Christians stayed faithful during the reign of the tyrant Nero. How horrifying for them, but inspiring how they continue on with their faith no matter what. I thought this book was rich in historical detail. I found it interesting how the author was able to take the reader to Theophilius’s time and how he lived to know of Jesus, Paul, and the rise of Christianity. I definitely would not have wanted to live in the Roman’s time of power.  Recommended. 4 stars.
pinkgirlLS More than 1 year ago
This is my first Randy Singer book. I thought the book was a little slow. The story spans the whole life of the main character. So, you read a bit about one event in his life and then the next section is a few months or years in the future. I also found it strange how the author changed and wrote from different characters’ points of view. However, if you are a lover of ancient Rome, you would probably really enjoy this book. It is interesting to think of what it would have been like to be a part of Jesus’ and Paul’s trails.
Maciemollysdad More than 1 year ago
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.  
SophiesMindset More than 1 year ago
Exceeded expectations I've only read one other Singer book, and, to be honest, I wasn't that thrilled with it. It wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't *great*. That experience almost kept me from reading The Advocate, and I'm glad I gave Singer another chance. The Advocate drew me in and kept me interested - nothing hokey in it either. Everything in this book could have happened (and some of it did). This is storytelling near its best. I appreciate that Singer includes a list in the front of the book letting you know which characters are fictional, which ones are historical (but about whom little is known), which are based on a historical figure whose name is unknown, and which ones are solid historical figures.  The book isn't preachy, which is a feat when dealing with the beginnings of Christianity. No trite prayers - just lives realistically portrayed ... whether or not those people are believers in Jesus.  Excellent read. Highly recommend. 
BeccaCarter More than 1 year ago
Excellent novel! Every so often I pick up historical fiction, and I wonder why I don’t read it more. The Advocate has confirmed that I need to do so, and it was such a good experience reading the book that I’m ready to scour Wikipedia for information about the time period before I dig into another era. I wouldn’t want to live in that time, especially as a Christian ruled by Roman emperors, but Singer’s presentation of the times was compelling. Singer also does a good job introducing and maintaining his characters so that I wanted to join them on their journey through the storylines, and I cared what happened to them even when their choices or motivation veered from what I think I would do in a similar situation (or rather, what I hope I would do in such a political minefield where lives are at stake). I’m going to be on the lookout for another Singer novel, at least one per year until I’ve tracked them all down. Thanks, Randy, for your excellent writing!
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
From the beginning I found this book completely compelling and did not want to put it down! Even though it was a departure from the author’s norm of contemporary fiction, this historical fiction was completely riveting. I also learned things about Roman society that I never knew before and I loved how Mr. Singer even treated some known facts with humor. Essentially, Mr. Singer has written a book with the idea that Luke and Acts sound like legal briefs – would it be possible that they were written to a lawyer, Theophilus, to get him caught up to date to prepare for Paul’s trial before Nero? So we get the story of Paul woven in the book, but also the fictional parts about Theophilus and how he fit in Roman society. Of course Mr. Singer has done extensive research into Roman society to bring many details to life – from the vestal virgins to the gladiator games to the problems in outlaying provinces. We even get an understanding for why Pontius Pilate acted as he did. Fabulous book – one of my new favorites and I highly recommend it! Great read for both men and women.