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Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Mark 15:39 Ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ κεντυρίων ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐξ ἐναντίας αὐτοῦ ὅτι οὕτως ἐξέπνευσεν εἶπεν Ἀληθῶς οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος υἱὸς θεοῦ ἦν.

This is normally rendered with ὁ acting as the definite article for υἱὸς θεοῦ:

New International Version Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"

I know word order is less important in Koine but doesn't it seem that the article is misplaced? Isn't it qualifying, oddly, ἄνθρωπος? Should't it read more like:

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, "Surely this, the man, was a son of God"?

Or something to that effect?

What brought me to question this is that I see in this account an allusion to Jesus' teaching:

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called (κληθήσονται) children (υἱοὶ, or "sons") of God.

It makes little sense to me that the Roman soldier would have a messianic expectation and rather saw some kind of native divinity in Jesus (in the Roman sense) and so called him a son of a god", thus fulfilling Matthew 5:9.

I'm reminded of the reverence of the soldiers of "Hacksaw Ridge" who likewise saw the peacemaker and admired him with little concern about seeing him as a messiah, only as one the divine had infiltrated his character.

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There are two parts to your question. First: οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος. A demonstrative adjective is normally followed by an article in Greek prose. It just means “this man”. This is elementary Greek grammar. Details here: http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.54:1:27.LSJ

Second: υἱὸς θεοῦ ἦν. In Classical Greek this would indeed mean: “was a son of a god”. But in the koine the article is often omitted where it is required in good Classical Greek. So “was the son of God” is also a possible translation. Somehow I think the former sounds more plausible in the mouth of a Roman centurion.

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