|The Beheading of Paul|
Firstly, any Christian with knowledge of the Gospels knows that Mark & Luke were not & do not claim to be eyewitness accounts. Mark (cousin of early church leader Barnabus) was a contemporary of Peter, one of the 12, and obviously got his most of his info of Jesus from him. Luke, who was “a historian of the first rank.” He is credited with authoring the third Gospel and the book of Acts. Luke is mentioned three times in the New Testament. (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; II Timothy 4:11) and from these passages we learn that Luke was a physician and a fellow worker of Paul who traveled with him during his missionary journeys. He interviewed many eyewitnesses of Christ.
Regarding your claim of Mark (which most scholars credit as the first Gospel) not being written till 70 AD, there is great evidence that indicates it was written much earlier. In the Book of Acts there is no mention of the death of the apostle Paul. His death is dated from anywhere between 62 AD to 68. 3 Acts 28:30-31 tells us that Paul was under arrest for two years but fails to mention his execution. Also we find no mention of James who was killed by the Sanhedrin in 62 AD, as recorded by Josephus. Why, if it was written after their execution? Nero persecuted Christians exceedingly around A.D. 64 when Rome suffered an immense fire. Therefore, the persecution had to occur during those years, yet there is no mention of this in Acts–a book that records the history of the early Christian church.
Also, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, yet this is mentioned no where in Scripture. The only place we see this is when Jesus predicts it, saying “no stone will be left unturned.” Surely, if the Gospels were written after 70 AD, they would have included this. We have good evidence to show Acts being written by 62 AD. The Gospel of Luke was written before Acts as Luke tells us this at the beginning of Acts. If Acts was written by 62 and Luke was written by 60 AD, then Luke was written less than 30 years of Jesus’ death. Scholars believe Mark and Matthew were written prior to Luke, probably around 45-55 AD. This is 15-25 years after Jesus, which is very soon and should give us great confidence in their truthful accuracy. There would’ve been plenty of eyewitnesses still living.
“No first century date allows time for myths or legends to creep into stories about Jesus.” -Norman Geisler
The majority of NT scholars do not believe that the traditionally ascribed authors of the Gospels (Matthew, John Mark, Luke, John) were the actual authors of these four first century books.
Regarding the dates of the writing of the Gospels, the majority of scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was written between 65-75 AD. Is it possible that the Gospel was written earlier? Yes. Is it possible that the Gospel was written later? Yes. If this Gospel was written later, after the destruction of the Temple, then it would be much more difficult for Christians to claim that Jesus had prophesied the destruction of the Temple. The later date would make it entirely possible that this “prophecy” was not a prophecy, but an invention of the author; writing about an event which had already happened.
But I do not make the assertion that Jesus did NOT predict the destruction of the Temple because the majority of experts believe that it is possible that the Gospel of Mark was written prior to the destruction of the Temple. Therefore, the best that we can say is that Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the Temple might be historical fact. As much as I as a skeptic may believe that Jesus did not have fortune telling powers to see into the future, I cannot use the date of the writing of Mark to prove it.
I accept the position of the majority consensus of scholars on this issue.
I suggest you do the same. As much as you would like the Gospel of Mark to have been written sometime between 45-55 AD, that is not what the overwhelming majority of experts believe. Therefore you are clinging to a fringe position, and I would suggest that you are clinging to this fringe position because you have a bias: You very much want the Gospel to have been written prior to 70 AD to confirm that Jesus prediction was indeed a prophecy and therefore you choose to accept a fringe position to support the earlier date.
You are not being reasonable or rational.
And the same is true for the dating of the other three gospels and the Book of Acts. No credible mainstream (non-fundamentalist Christian) scholar I know believes that Acts was written before 62 AD. This is wishful thinking on your part. I suggest that we all accept the consensus expert position on all issues of which we personally are not experts, including the authorship and the dates of the writing of the books of the New Testament.
Finally, rumors regarding any emotionally-charged subject can spread at the speed of a brush fire. Common sense and ample personal experience should tell you that. To believe that this was not true in first century Palestine is, again, wishful thinking.