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.
before his death, because Cicero in the second Philippic, which was probably written around October of 44 BCE, calls Antony "the priest (flamen) to divine Julius (divo Iulio)" referring to a decree made before Caesars death19. Others have associated the first use of the title with the games which Octavian gave in honor of Caesar in July of 4420. In either case it seems obvious that Gaius Julius Caesar was deified shortly after his death and this provided Octavian (later known as Augustus) the ground to claim that he was "son of god", being the heir and adopted son of the divine Julius. Divine epithets given to Gaius Julius call him "savior," "benefactor," and "god," but it is remarkable that neither qeou= ui(o\j nor divi filius can be found among them. On one occasion, Gaius Julius was praised as be to\n a)po\ 1Arewj kai\ )Afpodei/th\j qeo\n e)pifanh\j kai\ koino\n tou= a)nqrwi/nou bi/ou swth/r (SIG 760) = "the manifest god from Mars and Aphrodite, and universal savior of human life." It is interesting that Gaius Julius was never called "son of god" even though he claimed that his family descended from Venus21. Since his father Gaius Caesar was never deified, perhaps he could not have had the title even if he had wanted it. The complete absence of the epithet divi filius which was later made so popular by his adopted son-nephew is remarkable nonetheless, because it strongly implies that the title was not present in the tradition of the Roman state cult prior to the time of Augustus.
Gaius Julius Octavianus Caesar (Octavian) who succeeded Gaius Julius as his heir quickly started to sign his name Caesar divi filius, which means "Caesar son of god." It came to be so closely associated with Octavian that it became part of his name rather than a title. In the competition for supremacy against the more experienced and better financed Mark Antony the greatest weapon Octavian had was the memory of Gaius Julius whose great deeds still captivated the people of Rome, and he had every reason to emphasize his filial relationship with Gaius Julius. He was still a young man of nineteen when he learned of his uncles assassination and had held no significant public office or military post partly due to his youth and partly to his weak health. Mark Antony, on the other hand, was a famous general and a long-time