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.
augur, consul and tribunicia potestas27. The word Augustus is not a title or office but a name, meaning worthy of praise/honor, but it became customary for later emperors to call themselves Augustus. It is remarkable that the other name of Octavian, divi filius, does not appear to have the same range of application. It is to the exclusivity of this title divi filius (or qeou= ui(o\j) that I wish to direct our attention. Greek incriptions and legends of Augustus also have a similar structure, but the honors attributed to him appear to be more Hellenistic in nature than Roman. For instance, Augustus is mentioned in a letter of Tiberius as: qeou= Kai/s [ a ] | roj qeou= ui(ou= Sebastou= Swth=roj )Eleuqepi/ou (SEG XI 922-3)28 = "god Caesar son of god, Augustus, savior of freedom." Most other Greek references to Augustus seem to be in the same style. Augustus was widely referred to as: h( kai/saroj kra/thsij qeou= ui(ou) (PRyl 601; PSI 1150) = "The mastery of Caesar son of god"; kai=sar qeou= ui(o\j Au)tokra/twr (PTeb 382) = "Caesar son of god, Emperor"; Kai/saroj au)tokra/twr qeou= ui(o\j Zeu\j e)leuqe/rioj (POslo 26; SB 8824) = "Emperor Caesar son of god, Zeus the liberator, Augustus"; Au)tokra/twr Kai=sar Sebastoj swth\r kai\ eu)erge/thj (SB 8897) = "Emperor Caesar Augustus, savior and benefactor."
The next emperor was Tiberius, about whom opinions vary among people. He was a good general and administrator and did his best to keep the rules and policies laid down by his great predecessor. He pursued a policy of maintaining the status quo of Augustan rule and mindfully avoided changing anything that Augustus had established. But his personality did not have the graciousness and tact in dealing with people that Augustus had possessed in so supreme a degree, and, according to Suetonius, Augustus often tried to defend Tiberius before the Senate and people by saying that his signs of arrogance were natural failings and not intentional29. Without the presence of Augustus to mitigate the relation between Tiberius and the Senate, however, Tiberius gradually came to despise the incompetence and hesitancy of the Senate, and the Senate his odd habits and the lack of social aptitude which was seen by the populace