What a nightmare!
With 1:1-3 exorcised as unlikely to be original, 1:4-8 looks like the likely original Prologue:
4 John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins.
|The present, John's baptism.|
5 And there went out unto him all the country of Judaea, and all they of Jerusalem; And they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 And John was clothed with camel`s hair, and [had] a leathern girdle about his loins, and did eat locusts and wild honey.
|John the Baptist.|
7 And he preached, saying, There cometh after me he that is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8 I baptized you in water; But he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit.
|The future, Jesus' baptism.|
Small but quality textual support for "fire" connected to "Holy Spirit". "Fire" is always bad/destructive in GMark. If "fire" is original here than it may be an ironic prediction that Jesus' "baptism" will destroy Judaism in total or at least in part. If so, is this the primary prediction of the verse? See below.
1:8 looks like the end of the Prologue as 1:9 starts with "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came" thus beginning a continuous Jesus' narrative until the Epilogue.
As far as comparing to other famous Prologues the prologue of Oedipus
probably would have been the most famous Greek Tragedy prologue at the time GMark was written and one of the most famous prologues in general:
Note the groundwork for extreme irony laid out in the Prologue. The history of the city is that Oedipus saved the city. Now the city is suffering and looks to Oedipus to save it again. Parallels to the Jewish history, God saved the Jews from Egypt (Oedipus saved the Thebans from the Sphinx, which also became GMark's image)) and now the Jews look to be saved again. In a few strophes Tiresias, the blind prophet appears, who prophesies that it ironically is Oedipus himself who is the cause of Theban suffering (because he murdered the King who he did not recognize as King (and also did not recognize his father - I could go on and on but I think Peter has a word limit here)). At the end Oedipus does indeed save Thebes by removing himself from Thebes and substituting his suffering for Thebes' suffering. Of course The Jewish Bible in GMark takes the place of Tiresias by being misused to claim the same type of ironic prophecies.
For a student of 1st century Israel the most significant event would have been the lost Roman War. If "fire" is original to 1:8 it's easy to make a parallel between GMark and real Jewish history. Jesus came to save the Jews and at first they looked to him for salvation but because they rejected him he instead became the object of their destruction as ironically prophesied in 1:8. Jesus tried to save, but failed, because just like Oedipus, that was his fate (God's will). Just as Josephus saw Vespasian as Messiah and Jewish destruction caused by rejection of Vespasian.
You also have the parallel theme between Oedipus and GMark of the hero taking on suffering to save. But in GMark, which is primary:
- 1) The destruction of Judaism because of rejection of Jesus.
2) The salvation of Judaism because of acceptance of Jesus.
We will see that GMark as a whole supports 1) and belief that 2) is primary seems anachronistic. This (theme) also supports "fire" in 1:8.
Skeptical Textual Criticism