The gospels themselves are not silent as to authorship. Luke turns up in Acts, when the voice of the narrator
shifts to 'we'. He makes no claim to have witnessed anything prior to that, but knows those
who did: "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things
which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning
were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect
understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent
Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been
instructed." (Luke 1:1-4).
The author of John's gospel claims to have seen what he records:
"And he that saw it bare record, and his record is
true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe."
(John 19:35). A postscript testifies that this truthful narrator is
the beloved disciple: "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and
wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true."
John Mark, Peter's interpreter, turns up in Acts, along with his
mother: "And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house
of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were
gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the
gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda." (Acts 12:12-13). His
gospel reports the odd incident of a young man who drops his drawers
in his haste to escape: "And there followed him a certain young man,
having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men
laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them
naked." (Mark 14:51-52). Is this comedic relief, or a 'signature'? —
was that young man Mark himself?
It is natural for 'hero worship' to set in once a movement
matures. Members look back on their founders with unbridled
admiration. The gospel writers could have given the apostles all
manner of opportunities to strike a heroic pose. . .except they are
too busy recording Peter's defection, the whole group's general
incomprehension, Judas' treason, etc. This is understandable if the
authors are of the apostolic generation, not otherwise.
The unknown author of the letter to Hebrews reports that the
early gospel preachers included hearers of the Lord:
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the
first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles, and gifts
of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
It strains credulity to imagine that no one at any time had sufficient interest in the testimony of
these early eye-witnesses to bother interviewing them and writing down their
reminiscences. Though they travelled about preaching the gospel,
confirming to the author of Hebrews what they had heard from the
Lord's lips, they finished the course and departed this life without
anyone ever troubling to make a note of anything they said. How
could these things be? Why, because it was an 'oral culture,' if you
please. There is no 'fact' known to modern 'scholarship' which is
more demonstrably false than this; literacy was a common possession
in this literate and indeed literary culture: