Related topics: Our sources When were the New Testament writtings accepted as scripture?
When the New Testament was written is a significant issue, as one assembles the overall argument for Christianity.
Jose O'Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world on March 18, 1972, when he identified a manuscript fragment from Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) as a piece from the gospel of Mark. Fragments from this cave had previously been dated between 50 BC and AD 50, hardly within the time frame established for New Testament writings.
Specifically mentioned are the twelve apostles and James the brother of Jesus. There is a ring of authenticity to the book from beginning to end. Paul mentions 500 who had seen Christ, most of whom were still alive. The contents harmonize with what has been learned about Corinth during that era. Along with 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and Galatians are well attested and early.
Internal evidence is strong for this early date: 1. All three reveal a historical interest in the events of Jesus' life and give facts that agree with the Gospels.
For this reason radical scholars argue for late first century, and if possible second century, dates for the autographs [original manuscripts].
By these dates they argue that the New Testament documents, especially the Gospels, contain mythology.
This is precisely what Luke claims in the prologue to his Gospel: Many have undertaken to draw up a record of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who were eye-witnesses and servants of the word.