It is customary to divide the witnesses to the New Testament text into three types: Greek manuscripts, the versions and patristic citations. This is a reasonable classification from the point of view of the study of variant readings, and especially for the editor of a text. But it is worth pointing out at the beginning of this survey that there is an important way in which there is only one type of witness to the text – copyings of some or all of it in a manuscript. One might categorise these manuscript copyings in various ways: as manuscripts in Greek and manuscripts in other languages; as manuscripts of the whole text and manuscripts of a part of it in a different context; or using both, so that they were placed in one of four categories: as manuscripts of all the text in Greek, of all the text in another language, of some of the text in Greek or of some of the text in another language.
Editions of patristic writings
All the works of every early Christian writer were of course transmitted in manuscript form, and it is important that these works also should be properly edited from the manuscript sources. Not so many such editions exist as we would like, and too often we are dependent upon old editions made from a handful of manuscripts, and these not necessarily ones which a critical editor would wish to use.