Larry Hurtado has shared a very good post called “Early Christian Manuscripts and Their Readers.” I love following Hurtado’s work, especially his findings concerning the early worship of Jesus Christ as divine.
In this post, he summarizes his article from a book called The Early Text of the New Testament, edited by Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger (Oxford University Press). His articles follows the findings of William A. Johnson who concluded that “the rather severe and demanding features of high-quality ancient Greek literary manuscripts reflect the elite social-settings in which these manuscripts were intended to be read.”
But, when you examine the oldest NT manuscript, those “rather severe and demanding features” are not present. Instead, Hurtado finds the following:
If Johnson is correct that the format of the pagan literary rolls was intended to reflect and affirm the exclusivity of the elite social circles in which they were to be read, then Christian manuscripts (especially those that appear to have been prepared for public reading) typically seem to reflect a very different social setting, perhaps deliberately so. I propose that they reflect a concern to make the texts accessible to a wider range of reader competence, with fewer demands made on readers to engage and deliver them.
So, if Hurtado is correct, then the earliest copiers wrote the NT manuscripts in a way that allowed the most people from the widest social stratas to be able to read them and understand them. In other words, they were prepared for the common person.