In the reviews of Gathercole, Johannson and Peppard we have been looking at those who set Mark’s christology primarily against a Jewish (e.g., eschatological agents, intermediary or angelic figures, theophanies of Yahweh) or Roman (e.g., the imperial cult) background. A mark of some older scholarship on Mark was to see the Gospels’ portrait of Jesus as fitting into a common type known as a “divine man” (theios aner), a semi-divine figure such as an apotheosized hero or leader, charismatic magician or renowned sage, in Hellenistic literature (including Jewish literature more influenced by Hellenism such as Jewish historiographers or Philo on Moses). So Mark’s emphasis on Jesus’ supernatural feats especially in the first half of the Gospel was either seen as promoting an image of Jesus as a “divine man” (cf. Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament; more recently William Telford, The Theology of the Gospel of Mark) or to combat such a theology with an emphasis on the suffering and weakness of the cross (cf. Theodore Weeden, Mark: Traditions in Conflict). While I think JZ Smith (Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity) and others fairly critique scholars who exclusively search for a Jewish background that has not been contaminated by the wider Greco-Roman world as seeking a “pure” geneology for “Christianity” (but also one in which it supersedes) and therefore I am all for searching for cross-cultural parallels (whether similarities between Gospel chriae or miracle stories or other rhetorical devices to the Hellenistic world or Peppard’s useful contributions on the importance of the imperial cult), the category of a theois aner has really gone out of use in a lot of recent Gospel scholarship. The reason is that this was seen as a scholarly construct and an abstraction that tried to catch so much disparate data that it really was not of analytical use to describe why Mark or the other evangelists narrate the story of Jesus the way they do. To see some works that have led to the decline of the use of the category theios aner, see:
Carl Holladay, Theios Aner in Hellenistic Judaism: A Critique of the Use of This Category in New Testament Christology. SBLDS 40; Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977.
B. Blackburn, Theios Aner and the Markan Miracle Traditions: A Critique of the Theios Anēr Concept as an Interpretative Background of the Miracle Traditions Used by Mark. WUNT 2.40; Tubingen: Mohr, 1991.
David L. Tiede, The Charismatic Figure as Miracle Worker. SBL Dissertation Series 1;, Missoula, Mont: SBL, 1972.
J.D. Kingsbury, “The ‘Divine Man’ as the Key to Mark’s Christology: The End of an Era?” Interpretation 35 (1981): 243-57
Walter L. Liefield, “The Hellenistic ‘Divine Man’ and the Figure of Jesus in the Gospels” JETS