In a previous post I linked to a post on Vridar
that showed that pagans prior to the advent of Christianity had traditions of their gods descending in the form of an avian creature when they came to Earth. It is enough that Mark has the holy spirit do this at the beginning of his gospel to show a connection, but why a dove? I think I discovered why:
Mark 11.15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.
During Passover, Jews would come to Jerusalem and go to the money changers to change whatever currency they brought with them to Temple currency and use Temple currency to buy a sacrificial animal to present to the high preist for sacrifice. Mark here implies that the sacrificial animal that Jews bought and presented to the high priest for sacrifice was a dove. During Jesus’ entire ministry, he has this dove-like holy spirit possessing him and leading him about – ultimately leading him to its sacrifice in Jerusalem.
Mark uses περιστερα::peristera for both 1.10 and 11.15.