First thing mentioned in the 1904 preface is the purpose of this edition, to provide “the best reconstruction of the most ancient text of the ecclesiastical tradition and, more specifically, of the Church of Constantinople.”
The text was not based on codices used in ‘critical’ editions, those in capital letters, but on manuscripts in small letters, that are usually neglected. Most of them come from and after the 10th century, containing the full text of the New Testament, while others contain only the parts being used in church offices — they are the so called eklogadia (lectionaria), or Evangeliaria, or Praxapostoloi.
In the following list, manuscripts with one or two asterisks (at the beginning) are those compared by the editor — with two ** for manuscripts compared during the preparation of the text, and one * for those compared during the revision. A β is used for Evangeliaria of the Byzantine type, an α is used for the remarkable incomplete Evangeliaria and Praxapostoloi, an † for those kept in vestries, and an σ for the continuous texts of Praxapostoloi.
The manuscripts used during the preparation and revision of the text — beyond the numerous copies of incomplete Evangeliaria and of Tetraevangela (volumes with the four gospels) compared in Constantinople and the Holy Mount — were:
** Of the Chalki School of Theology, 1. 3α. 4. 7 of the Monastery, and 1. 2β. 5α. 6α of the School.
** Chalki Merchant School, † 167. 168β. 169β. 170. 171. 172. 173.
** Glebe of the Holy Sepulchre in Constantinople, 11. 272. 649.
** St George’s at the gate of Adrianoupolis, two †, the one incomplete, the other complete (of those in Haghia Sophia).
* St Demetrios’ of Tataoula, two †, the one from 1550, the older β.
* Coutloumousiou [Mount Athos], 62β. 64. 65.
* Caracallou [Mount Athos], 11. 13 β.
* Xeropotamou [Mount Athos], 122β.
* Iviron [Mount Athos], 1α. 3β. 9β. 10β. 11. 12β. 13. 638. and one †α.
* Lavras [Mount Athos], Α 72. 84. 86α. 93β. 95. 97β. 105. 111β. 113. 116β. 117. 118.
Of the National Library of Greece, 67. 164. 186.
Of the Jerusalem Library, 9. 12. 33. 40. 95β. 152. 186β. 236. 245β. (and some of the Church of the Resurrection β).
Of the Church Academy in Petersburg, two, the one from 985 β, and the other from 1034.
** Of the School of Theology, 13. 14. 15α. 9σ. 16σ. 177σ (the last one incomplete).
** Of the Merchant School, 59. 74. 26σ. 35σ. 96σ. 133σ.
* Coutloumousiou [Mount Athos], 80σ.
* Caracallou [Mount Athos], 62.
* Iviron [Mount Athos], 24σ. 25σ. 28σ. 29σ. 30σ. 37σ. 39σ. 52σ. 57σ. 60σ.
* Lavras [Mount Athos], Β 64σ. 74. 79. 90. Γ 123. Α 65σ.
** Of Chalki Merchant School, 26. 96.
** Of the Glebe of the Holy Sepulchre in Constantinople, 303.
** Coutloumousiou [Mount Athos], 82. 83. 163. 356.
** Iviron [Mount Athos], 25. 60. 589. 594.
** Lavras [Mount Athos], Α 91. Β 5. 18. 80. Ω 16 (incomplete) and 8 more, of the same type with Β 80.
Only very few of these manuscripts are dated before the 10th c. or after the 16th c. Only a few also belong to the 15th and the 16th c. The rest are dated from the 10th to the 14th c.
As regards the first epistle of John (5.7-8) about the three witnesses. This passage is missing from all ecclesiastical texts, all the texts of the Fathers and teachers of the Orthodox Church, from the ancient translations, from all known Greek manuscripts written independently of the addition that was introduced in the Vulgate. However, the current edition keeps this text following the opinion of the Holy Synod of the Great Church.
The text here prepared differs from Textus Receptus in about 2000 readings, 1400 passages — 150 in Matthew, 175 in Mark, 260 in Luke, 100 in John, 125 in the Acts, 165 in the Epistles of Paul, 65 in the Catholic Epistles and the rest in the Revelation.