What, though, of John Fenton? Other than my own representation of the John Fenton oral tradition, which dates to the mid 1980s, there is nothing more specific at this point. But several have been able to help me out with Donald Juel's views. It is quite clear that he held the same view, apparently independently of Fenton, and it is mentioned in a variety of places, including Messiah and Temple and the Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament (see comments for details). I picked up a copy of Donald H. Juel, Master of Surprise: Mark Interpreted (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), which features the following little footnote (74, n. 7):Some remain unconvinced by this reading and prefer to see Mark's centurion as making a true confession of some kind. Mike Parsons asks about Matthew's apparent misunderstanding of Mark's intent. My guess on that front is that Matthew is not so much misunderstanding as changing and re-conceptualizing. One might see Matthew's version of the story, the so-called "Zombie Pericope" (Matt. 27.51-54), as providing the reader with a new and explicit reason for the centurions' (now plural) confession. Matthew often explicates Mark’s mysteries in this way, and here he provides a scene that can genuinely impress the centurion and those with him, a truly apocalyptic breaking up of the earth, as heaven declares the momentous nature of Jesus’ death for the characters within the drama to see. The crucial difference is on what the centurion(s) witness in the different versions. Mark's centurion makes his assertion when he "saw how he died", ὅτι οὕτως ἐξέπνευσεν. Matthew's centurion, and those with him, on the other hand, do not just see how Jesus died. They "saw the earthquake and all that had happened", which leaves the reader in no doubt that this is some kind of awed confession.
I have come to believe that even "Son of God" in 15.39 ought probably be read as a taunt ("Sure, this was God's Son"), in accord with the rest of the taunts in the account of Jesus' trial and death. The centurion plays a role assigned all Jesus' enemies: They speak the truth in mockery, thus providing for the reader ironic testimony to the truth.I found a little more of interest in Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Patrick D. Miller (eds.), The Ending of Mark and the Ends of God: Essays in Memory of Donald Harrisville Juel (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005). The essay by Michael Welker, "Baptism as Change of Lordship" (107-14) quotes one of Juel's former students to the following effect:
Like a critic who delights in investigating and revealing the secrets behind magicians' illusions, Don dissected people's biblical exegesis, often wondering aloud why so much knowledge about texts and their histories prevented us from actually reading the texts. Likewise, he eagerly exposed students' hermeneutical assumptions, not necessarily to invalidate them but always to impel us to acknowledge and examine them. His sarcastic reading of the centurion's 'confession' in Mark 15.39 best illustrates this practice. While reading the passion narrative aloud, he would voice, 'Sure this was God's son!' with acerbic scorn. He clearly enjoyed the effects of the reading as much as he believed it a faithful rendering of Mark's account. His bold interpretation sounded alarms among students, driving us to the text to examine its contours for evidence to support various readings (Quoted from Matthew L. Skinner, "Mark a Life: A Tribute to Don Juel," inSpire 8/1 (2003), 33).
This draws attention to the key point in the Marcan narrative, that the centurion makes his remark when he sees how Jesus dies. It is the reader who sees the veil of the temple torn in two. To speak of the temple curtain being visible from Golgotha, whether Mark is implying inner or outer, is wishful thinking. Perhaps we are supposed to surmise that the centurion is impressed by the darkness described earlier, but that is not what the narrator isolates in order to provide the context for the centurion's remark. As far as the narrative is concerned, it is the sight of Jesus' death that causes the centurion to make this remark.
Thanks again to everyone for their informed and interesting comments.