Indeed, the term "according to" in the original Greek—kata—could be interpreted to suggest that the texts were understood to be relating a tradition of these individuals, rather than having been written by them.
As another example, regarding Jesus's body being stolen, Matthew's gospel claims that "this story has been spread among the Jews to this day." The phrase "to this day" indicates that the writer is talking about a significant length of time, not shortly after the resurrection as some have attempted to place the composition and emergence of this gospel.
In fact, we do not have any mention in the historical record of the story of Christ's body being stolen having been spread among the Jews until the second century.
However, conservative believers maintain the early dates and assert that the destruction of the temple and Judea mentioned in the gospels constitutes "prophecy," demonstrating Jesus's divine powers.
The substantiation for this early, first-century range of dates, both conservative and liberal, is internal only, as there is no external evidence, whether historical or archaeological, for the existence of any gospels at that time.
In the fourth century, Church historian Eusebius quoted early Church father and bishop Papias of Hierapolis (c. The assumption that the "presbyter John" with whom Papias apparently had a relationship was the same as the apostle John is evidently incorrect….
…Many of Papias's remarks, according to Eusebius, involved miracles, such as the raising of the dead, which stretch the credulity.
Indeed, renowned biblical scholar Tischendorf only managed to find two pertinent quotations in Justin Martyr's works that could possibly come from the gospel of Matthew, for example.
Again, these miniscule passages could very well come from a shared source text.
Papias is one of the only pieces of evidence Christian apologetics offers as to the dating of the gospels—yet, his testimony concerning these writings of Mark and Matthew is not only second-hand but also too late to possess any value as concerns the earliest of the gospels dates.
Moreover, Papias only speaks about a narrative by Mark, which by no means conclusively refers to the canonical Mark as we have it.
Based on the dating difficulties and other problems, many scholars and researchers over the centuries have become convinced that the gospels were not written by the people to whom they are ascribed. Indeed, the belief in the authorship of the gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is a matter of faith, as such an opinion is not merited in light of detailed textual and historical analysis.