Despite—or perhaps even because of—its relevance for many different subjects, there is no comprehensive definition for critical editions that would extend its validity beyond single genres, types of documents, transmission settings or methodological approaches. The idea of critical editing originates and has been most developed in literary studies of classical and medieval texts. Here, the attempt either to reconstruct a lost ‘original version’ (Urtext) from antiquity, or to realise the author’s will and intention for texts that have been contaminated and altered in the processes of transmission is central. Obviously, these ideas are bound to very specific settings of the creation and transmission of texts. They depend on particular theoretical assumptions and have been questioned in their goals ever since. The most prominent interpretation of critical editing as textual criticism thus seems rather narrow in a more global perspective.