Tae Hun Kim, «The Anarthrous ui(o\j qeou= in Mark 15,39 and the Roman Imperial Cult», Vol. 79 (1998) 221-241
This article points up evidence by which the language of the Roman imperial cult might help make clearer what a reader of Mark's Gospel might understand when the centurion (Mark 15,39) refers to Jesus as ui(o\j qeou=. Knowing how an audience familiar with this cult language would react, Mark intentionally speaks of Jesus as ui(o\j qeou= at 1,1, as well as at 15,39.
effectiveness of the statement as a confession of faith. Johnson has also pointed out that a nameless Roman soldier of a centurions rank, otherwise unknown in the Gospel, is an unlikely vehicle for a statement of faith so profound in Markan christology and Christianity as a whole. Johnson argues that it is unlikely Marks readers would find it believable that a professional soldier would risk his career in order to worship a crucified man, because it would be inconsistent with the image of a Roman centurion that Markan readers probably had 6.
Although it is difficult to ascribe the whole of Markan christology to only two verses, I argue that 1,1 and 15,39 are quintessential statements of Marks christology that must have challenged Markan readers to reconsider who the real "Son of God" was to them. As Johnson argues, it is unlikely that a centurion would confess that a crucified Jew was "Son of God," but the terminology of the confession seems to agree with his supposed cultural and religious background as a Roman soldier. The purpose of the present study is to show that the anarthrous ui(o\j qeou= in Mark 15,39 is a title thoroughly consistent with the background of the Roman imperial cult and, in particular, that of Augustus. Inquiring into the absence of the definite article, therefore, appears to be of minimal significance. The meaning of the anarthrous phrase ui(o\j qeou= in the Gospel of Mark has to be assessed in the context of the Gospel and its christology in its entirety, and the supposed cultural background of the Roman empire. Although not limited to the issues raised by Johnson, several aspects of his study will be taken into account.
The question of the anarthrous ui(o\j qeou=
Some have argued that ui(o\j qeou= should be understood as "a son of god" meaning the centurion saw Jesus as a demigod7. E.C. Colwell has suggested that the definite predicative nominative does not have the article when it precedes the verb 8. His rule seems to have persuaded most scholars to read the anarthrous ui(o\j qeou= as definite, "the Son of God," and this is the view most modern English versions follow. However, Johnson has argued that "a re-