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.
deification and worship of himself and/or his Genius in the provinces, for it was customary in the East to honor its ruler as god-king. A majority of inscriptions that praise Augustus and his successors as gods are in fact Greek documents produced in or attributed to the Hellenistic East. Augustus himself also appears to have been looking forward to achieving divine honor after his death17. As time passed the Roman public was gradually imbued with the tradition of ruler-deification Gaius Caligula is usually credited with the promiscuous introduction of Eastern culture and religion to Rome, something which was never appreciated under his ruleand it eventually became customary for the Romans to hail their emperor as divine. What concerns this study is that the way people understood and looked at their emperor must have differed between the reign of Tiberius, when Jesus ministry and crucifixion occurred, and the reign of Vespasian, when the Gospel of Mark went into circulation. Although it is a difficult question to answer, it seems reasonable for the purpose of this study to assume that the ephitet divi filius was more closely associated with the person of Augustus during the reign of Tiberius while it was associated with his divinity, Divus Augustus, during the reign of Vespasian. The intended readers of the Gospel of Mark, therefore, fall into the latter period, and it should be safe to assume that most of the intended Markan readers were familiar with the custom and terminology of the Roman imperial cult in full force and saw Augustus as a god rather than a political figure.
Gaius Julius Caesar, the founder of the Julian dynasty, is thought to have initiated, though posthumously, the custom of imperial deification. He was given the title of demigod in state worship during his lifetime and was officially deified posthumously by a senatorial decree on 1 January 42 BCE that conferred on him the name of Divus Iulius18. Some argue that Caesar received the divine honor