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.

  • article is not misplaced; it is not assumed to be modifying son, it is impossible. It only modifies the word which it preceeds, ie. anthropos. The man. Its a matter of interpretation to render the-son or a son.
    – Michael16
    Apr 9, 2022 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


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.

  • The link seems to have become broken.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 11, 2022 at 4:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.