I always love it when my lifelong involvement with technology meets my area of formal training, as in the post Manuscripts Digitized at Southern Methodist University from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.
One of the more interesting—and completely invalid—arguments regarding the text of the New Testament is the idea that I should automatically believe a text edition that is earlier because it’s “closer to the time of the original.”
The problem is that there have been so many discoveries of manuscripts, ways of reading manuscripts, and ways of presenting them.
Note that I’m dealing here not with the argument that an earlier manuscript is better, but that an edition, let’s say the one by Erasmus, is better than a current edition because the 16th century is closer to the history. This is one I’ve heard presented quite seriously by KJV-Only advocates. The argument that an older manuscript is better is better is more valid, and yet not absolutely true, because the issue is really how many generations of copying have taken place, not the absolute age, and even that is not a guarantee of a better text. But that is another subject.
When I took an undergraduate course in New Testament textual criticism, my main class project was to present an edited text of a passage of scripture. I chose the first several verses of Acts 15 (I forget precisely how many). I was able to directly examine the text of only a half a dozen manuscripts of which we had photographic copies in the library. It was enough for a beginning student to get an idea of the work involved. (I was permitted to consult and cite others secondarily from existing editions, but had to indicate which I had been able to examine myself.)
Now, with abundant online storage, good cataloging, and excellent reproductions, a student in the same situation could consult dozens more manuscripts via better images than the ones I possessed at the time.
Those interested in the technology might like this link: Multispectral vs Hyperspectral Imaging Explained. It’s somewhat technical.