The 'spiritualy beneficial tales' of Byzantine Christianity grew out of the desert Apophthegmata. Written at a time, and at a social level, not remarkable for its literary output, the spontaneous and often naive tales shamelessly despoil the common treasure-house of the tradition while creating a new genre of spiritual admonition. Here readers enter the spiritual world ofPaul, tenth-century bishop of Monembasia, 'a place of no particular importance'. Through his eyes we see the monastic and ecclesiastical world of ordinary tenth-century eastern Christians.
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