In the broadest sense manuscripts include all handwritten records as distinguished from printed records. In a narrower sense they are handwritten codices, rolls and folded documents, as distinguished from printed books on the one hand and inscriptions, or engraved documents, on the other. More loosely, but commonly, the term is used as synonym of the codex.
The Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament and New Testament, respectively, form the primary sources for establishing the text or true original words of the respective authors. The subordinate sources, versions and quotations have also their text problem, and manuscripts of the versions and of the church Fathers, and other ancient writers who refer to Biblical matters, play the same part in establishing the true words of the version or the writer that the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts play in establishing the original of Scripture. For discussion of the textual aspects, see the articles on TEXT AND MANUSCRIPTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, on VERSIONS, and especially the SEPTUAGINT. For the material, writing instruments, form of manuscripts, etc., see BOOK; and especially the literature under WRITING.
E. C. Richardson
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