Old Russian literature originates from the times of Kievan Rus. For eight centuries, she went through several stages of development. The first is the formation and flowering of the literature of the times of Kievan Rus. It arose on the basis of the mythology of the Slavs, the oral creativity of the people and the assimilation (after the introduction of Christianity) of the literary experience of Byzantium and Bulgaria.
Now we have two kinds of monuments of ancient Russian literature: original and translated. With the adoption of Christianity, the construction of churches and the introduction of school education, the demand for Christian church literature and liturgical books has also increased. This led to the emergence of translated literature sanctioned by the church (patericon, life, biblical books, etc.). Translation literature came to Rus mainly from Byzantium. First of all, what was needed for the practical needs of the new Christian cult was imported. The works were not only carefully preserved, but also rewritten, that is, their literary destiny continued on a new socio-historical and cultural basis.
D. Likhachev pointed out that not all the genres of Old Russian literature migrated from Byzantium. Some did not hit our soil at all, and some were created anew, independently. This is due to different stages of development of Byzantine society and Old Russian. This applies, for example, to poetic works, they were translated by prose and interpreted in a new way. The experience of the first Bulgarian poets did not cause a continuation in Russia. So it is with proverbs. In Byzantium, they began to collect in the 12th century, and the collection of Russian proverbs began only in the 17th century. It follows that it is impossible to build the genres of Old Russian literature to the Byzantine genre system. They initially stood on different levels.
The main genres of Old Russian literature are chronicles, "teachings," hagiographic works (biographies of saints), oratorical-moralizing prose.
Most of them were in demand in divine services. Actively used biblical texts, translated by educators and educators Cyril and Methodius and their students from the Greek language. Some genres of ancient Russian literature were intended for the uneasy monastic life. Even the cell reading had its own regulation, as a result of which several types of hymns and lifestyles appeared.
Within the framework of some genres, a new work developed (for example, in connection with the canonization of saints, new lives gradually emerged). Others were limited to a range of certain works, and the introduction of new ones was not allowed (the Gospel, the Psalter, the Epistles of the Apostles). But, despite this, both of them retained their formal signs.
Less connected traditions were the so-called "secular" genres of Old Russian literature. True, secular they were not in content, but in destination for reading in the world. They did not become attached to divine services (although they also had church themes), to certain moments in a person's life, could be read at any time, so they did not have strict external signs. These genres, which also came from Bulgaria and Byzantium, include historical works (Josephus Flavius's The Tale of the Destruction of Jerusalem, Devgenia Acts), chronicles and apocrypha. The latter were not consecrated by the church and were written on the themes of the Old and New Testaments, which supplemented and refined the Bible. The most popular heroes of apocrypha were the apostles Peter and Paul, Ilya and Moses; One of the most striking examples of such a work is "The Walking of the Virgin by Flour".
Since the 12th century, ancient Russian literature has reached a level of development that not only did not stand on its own, but also influenced the development of the culture of the Balkan countries.