As I have pointed out in several posts (ex. Jesus or the Christ), the Gospel of Mark’s users did not believe in the virgin birth. This is detectable within the text of the Gospel of Mark, as it omits a birth narrative and gives clear indication that Jesus’s post-baptism behavior is entirely new, notably in Mark 3:21, when Jesus’s family considers locking him up because they believed he lost his mind.
We also glean from a variety of heresiologists, including Irenaeus of Lyon, in Against Heresies i.24, that one of Mark’s earliest consumers, Basilides, whose theology holds clear Gnostic attributes, believes that the Spirit, which an ordinary man Jesus absorbed at the time of his baptism, left him prior to his crucifixion, and jumped to Jesus’s cross bearer, Simon of Cyrene, who had been plucked from the field, and essentially becomes “the last” apostle which Jesus Christ mentioned in Mark 9:35, and who (in my opinion) is clearly foreshadowed in Mark 9:38 as the unnamed demon-caster who John complains to Jesus about.
The fact that Gnostic Christians used the Gospel of Mark does not necessarily mean that Mark was written with Gnostic intentions. However, there is a passage in the Gospel of Mark 4:10-11 which reveals alternative motives.
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables
The above passage alludes to a mystery religion. The defining characteristic of a mystery religion is that the literal components of the religion are obfuscated so that outsiders have limited access to the religion’s inner workings. Jesus privately addressing his inner circle about hidden meaning in his words is a clear allusion to a deeper mystery.
This means decoding techniques which rely on modern literal intuition are not going to render the intended meaning.
Along with the theme of secrecy which is detectable throughout the Gospel, the specific attribute that makes Jesus so special, aside from his demon-casting abilities is that demons recognize him. This paradigm is given almost immediately in the Gospel in Mark 1:23-24
Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us,Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
The above passage implies that malevolent spirits can inhabit humans. But where did the malevolent spirits originate? And how could they originate on an Earth which is governed by a benevolent God? And what was that Je ne sais quoi about Jesus that triggered demons to lash out at him?
According to Irenaeus of Lyon, the Gnostic view of earth-originating demons is that the Cosmocrator is the ruler of the Earth. The Cosmocrator, in Against Heresies i.5.4, is the “creature of the Demiurge” (the Demiurge was the Craftsman who created Earth). This gave the Valentinian Gnostics the ability to offload the Craftsman’s malevolence onto the Cosmocrator; for the Valentinians, the Demiurge was more ignorant than malevolent. Incidentally, this Demiurge-Cosmocrator relationship correlates to the dragon rendering his authority to “the beast” in Revelation 13:4.
According to Irenaeus, the Valentinians saw the Demiurge as “incapable of having knowledge of spiritual things”. The Christ, which Jesus possessed, was a Spirit. How then could the Demiurge’s minions, such as the demon-possessed man around the synagogue, have recognized Jesus in this context?
The Demiurge and his followers recognized Jesus because the Demiurge became aware of “spiritual things” after Jesus received the Christ!
In Mark 1:9-10, Jesus receives the Spirit via baptism:
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
After Jesus was baptized and the dove descended carrying the Spirit, the heavens opened to express the lord’s pleasure. Mark 1:12-13 has Jesus being instantly taken to the wilderness to be deposed by Satan:
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tested by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Note that the wilderness (ἐρήμῳ / ἔρημον) to which Jesus was taken was the same wilderness mentioned around John the Baptist’s ministry: “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance” (Mk 1:4).
The Demiurge’s ignorance of all things spiritual was transformed into hostility against the spiritual after he interrogated Jesus. This awareness remains evident throughout Mark; for instance, with the demons from Mark 1:34, who knew who Jesus was.
The fact that Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days is probably not inconsequential, as it may have been a multiple (as in other Jewish text, such as 2 Esdras 10:45) – consider my speculation that 40 days was equivalent to 4000 years, that would imply this interaction occurred prior to the Earth’s creation, which according to Rabbinical Chronology, occurred on October 7, 3761 BCE. In other words, Satan’s attempted deal-making with Jesus would have occurred prior to creation, which means Satan was in control of the wilderness prior to the creation of the earth. This would put Satan as the primary candidate for the Demiurge, or the creator of the world — hardly an Orthodox view of creation! In Mark 1:13, Jesus “was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” Incidentally, this allows for the Gospel of John’s assertion that “through him all things were made” (Jn 1:3).
Who are those angels and wild beasts? In Gnostic traditions, the Demiurge’s fellow rulers (archons) were often represented as animal hybrids. Likewise, according to various Gnostic and proto-Gnostic practitioners, the Earth was created by inferior angels.
Jesus’s presence during this time puts him as a candidate for a primal Adam.
What these details amount to is a Gospel which must have been more aware of Gnostic traditions than tradition purports.