The following series was originally written by Carlos A. Segovia (marked CAS below). It is here translated into English and features additional responses by Thomas W. Hudgins. Part 3 of this series deals with the preexistence and divinity of Jesus Christ.
Can the expression "son of God" in Paul refer to the Roman imperial ideology, in a critical sense?
CAS: In my view, we should seriously consider the possibility. It would be interesting to compare the texts of Paul, especially Romans and Galatians, with Roman propaganda literature of the same time period and examine whether or not there are two thought processes in conflict with each other. Something similar has been shown not only Horsley, Borg, and Crossan (which are the only authors that David Alvarez Cineira echoes, rather than an oblique echoe trying to tame the revolutionary character of the Pauline message and make it acceptable to the Church), but above all, N. Elliot, D. Lopez and B. Kahl; the semiotic analysis of Davina Lopez and Brigitte Kahl (think, for example, about the study of semiotics with the Roman arena that Kahl has in her book Galatians Re-imagined) are so detailed and fascinating, and they are very convincing!
AP: Without a doubt there is a reference to the Roman imperial ideology, but this isn’t the main point. And it’s certainly not the only point. Primarily the title “Son of God” refers to a Messiah and the kingdom that belongs to him. You say that this goes against Caesar. Well, that’s true, it does; but Paul did not think of it as his primary reference. No, he viewed what you are referring to as an unavoidable consequence; Paul’s message was focused beyond this world scene as its final end.
TWH: I simply see no basis for arriving at a conclusion like that.