St. Theodosius (or Feodosii, as he is called in Life) is portrayed to be on the far side of Christian devotion. The text portrays Feodosii as an idyllic Christian, able to purge himself of any and all earthly needs and desires. From a young age, he appears to be completely and utterly devoted to God. Feodosii wore ragged, patched clothes and preferred to study divine books, rather than playing with children. Life provided any Rus citizen with the perfect painting of what it meant to be a Christian, while simultaneously setting the bar so high that it appears no Rus citizen could ever compare.
Reading the text from today’s mindset, St. Theodosius’s actions appear utterly ridiculous. What child would completely forsake playing, in order to study diving books with “submissiveness and obedience”? Though the text quite clearly spells out the author’s idea of an ideal Christian, it completely neglects the notion that people are human, and therefore prone to the occasional bout of selfishness or the odd desire for enjoyment and pleasure.
Despite seeming far-fetched, though, I feel that the author painted St. Theodosius’s life to be such a struggle so that readers can take note of the degree of piety. A rational human wouldn’t expect another average human to take beatings without fighting back, to perform self-harm to prove religious devotion, or even to forsake all earthly goods in the name of their Lord. By making the story of St. Theodosius’s life so extreme, the author ensured that the audience would take something away from the story, even if they couldn’t be the ideal Christian that Feodosii embodies.
The fantastical image of the ‘ideal’ Christian (one who constantly studies divine books, bakes bread for the Church, performs labor with slaves, who travels on pilgrimages, and who ultimately devotes their life to a monastery) gave Rus citizens something to strive for, even if it was unattainable. The high standards would ensure that Rus citizens always had to something to work on and emulate, ultimately creating generations of devout Christians.