Earl S. Johnson, «Mark 15,39 and the So-Called Confession of the Roman Centurion», Vol. 81 (2000) 406-413
Continuing examination of the grammatical, literary and historical evidence indicates that the centurion's remarks about Jesus in Mark 15,39 cannot be understood as a full Christian confession of Jesus' divine sonship, and cannot be taken as a direct challenge to any Roman emperor in particular. Jesus' identity in the gospel is not revealed by the centurion, the demons, the disciples or in the introduction to the gospel. It is made clear by God's declaration that he truly is the Son (1,11; 9,7), and in the faith of the readers as they search for Jesus' presence in their own community.
than the mere use of divi filius or related terms12. In most cases it is impossible now to reconstruct exactly how any individual emperor negotiated the delicate boundary between (god-like) humanity and outright divinity13. Tiberius at times did accede to the urging of some to acclaim him a god, especially in the East14. A. Wardman demonstrates, moreover, that there were two distinct ways that deification could be accorded to emperors15. The Augustan Model (adopted by Augustus and Tiberius) sought to give the impression of being a reluctant ruler or recipient of divine honors. The Augustan, Wardman demonstrates, is modest about his own religious claims while being punctilious in securing divine honors for his own family or close relatives (as Augustus claimed them for Julius Caesar, his uncle, and Tiberius for Augustus). The Augustan Emperor makes it clear that he has a high regard for venerated Roman tradition and presents frequent sacrificial offerings on a royal scale. Normally these leaders were universally accorded divine status after their deaths. As Wardman points out, even Tiberius was not intentionally effective in his protestations, and he ended up receiving the titles he had first refused16. D. Fishwick further demonstrates the inconsistency of the Augustan. Tiberius and Claudius both relaxed their refusal of divine honors and allowed temples to be built in their honor when it suited their purposes and were worshiped as deities during their own lifetimes17.
Wardman designates the second mode of emperor deification as the Antonian Model (influenced by the Egyptian concept represented by Mark Anthony and Cleopatra). In this form the emperor or leader appears as a god in public and makes divine claims intentionally obvious, like Caligula standing