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.
It is widely known that the Romans deified and worshipped their emperor and took religious oaths to swear their allegiance to the emperor. It has to be noted, however, that at the time of Augustus and Tiberius the Romans did not readily associate the name of their emperor with the state religion. Their focus of worship was the Genius of the emperor, which was divine to begin with, not the person of the emperor. The Romans did not have a tradition of having a god-king as the head of their state, whereas it was customary in the East and Egypt where an ancient and strong tradition of absolute monarchy prevailed14. Although Augustus was hailed as the divine-king pharaoh in Egypt after he had defeated the Antony-Cleopatra coalition, no such honor for him could be produced in Rome and he knew it well. Knowing that the Romans were not accustomed to dictatorship (divine kingship as it was in the East) and the consequence that had been brought upon his uncle, in Rome Augustus strenuously refused to accept any autocratic and/or divine honor associated with dictatorship. He styled himself as the defender and restorer of the Republic, hence the name princeps. In the words of L.R. Taylor, "the princeps senatus was also princeps civitatis; the title expressed admirably the position of Octavian as the foremost citizen for whose welfare magistrates and priests offered sacrifice"15. However, this is not to say that Augustus was sincerely interested in the restoration of the Republic. He appears to have planned to create a monarchy that was modeled after the god-king monarchy in the East, notwithstanding that it would not be realized in his lifetime. Having no son of his own, he carefully prepared his grandchildren as his heirs to the Principate only to see them die young, which resulted in his adopting Tiberius as his son and heir at the last moment16. But Augustus also did not prevent