The Freer biblical manuscripts: fresh studies of an American treasure troveEditor Larry W. Hurtado (SBL, 2006),
Article: Manuscript Markup, Timothy J. Finney, p. 284:
"An important question in this respect is, What proportion of manuscripts do we have? Taking Greek NT manuscripts of the Pauline Epistles as a case in point, about 15 remain from the time before Constantine. Given that the population of the Roman Empire was about 50 million, it is possible to obtain a rough estimate of the number of copies that would have been produced during this era. Assuming that Greek-speaking Christians constituted about 10 percent of the population by 300 C.E. and that there was one manuscript of the Pauline Epistles per 1000 Christians, there would have been about 5,000 of these manuscripts when Constantine became emperor. We thus arrive at a survival rate in the region of 15 per 5,000, or 0.3 percent. Even if this estimate is off by a factor of 10 in either direction, the fact remains that we have a very small remnant of the entire textual picture. (20)_____________________________________________________
20. Those interested in a slightly more sophisticated treatment may wish to look at my manuscript-copying simulation program: Timothy J. Finney, "MSS: A Manuscript Copying Simulation" (2002). Online: http://purl.org/TC/downloads/simulation/.