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.
The table of contents page on my Kindle stunned me. Nine parts and 101 chapters? It was apparent that The Advocate was not going to be light reading, and indeed it wasn’t. Part one is about a young man who happens to be a classmate of the boy known as Caligula. When he is perceived to have insulted Caligula’s deceased father, the future emperor exacts a horrible revenge. It is only thanks to a friend that the young man escapes death. His parents send him to a famous school on the island of Rhodes to complete his education. When he returns to Rome, he is ready to begin his career as a legal advocate. It is in part three that he arrives in Judea and meets Pilate. The section regarding the trial of Jesus is relatively short but it will haunt the advocate for the rest of his life.
I have to admit, this book wasn’t what I expected. To me, the summary implied that the major focus of the book was Paul’s trial. Therefore, I thought I’d get a detailed narrative about that trial. Instead, we get the life story of a Roman lawyer who seeks justice by beating his opponents in the courts. There is very little mention of the followers of The Way after Jesus’ crucifixion, and Paul doesn’t appear until the final third of the novel. Part eight is called The Apostle and takes place almost 16 years after the end of the previous part. It felt almost as though Singer realized he had to hurry up the plot. It is also brutally violent in parts. Roman society was fascinated with death, and especially the manner in which people were killed. I skimmed through a particularly nasty gladiator fight.
But… it is the final portion of the book that makes reading The Advocate worthwhile. Theophilus holds steadfast to the truth he has so recently learned through his interaction with Paul. We know how Nero treated the early Christians, so I had an idea of what was coming. Truthfully, we don’t know who Theophilus was, or if he was a victim of Nero’s persecution, but his fictionalized story here makes him an inspiration for us all.
Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for my complimentary electronic copy of The Advocate, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Have you read The Advocate? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: 01 May 2014
Page Count: 496