The story of Barlaam and Josaphat occupies a great part of book xv.; and book xvi.
About the year 1337 this hesychasm, which is obviously related to certain well-known forms of Oriental mysticism, attracted the attention of the learned and versatile Barlaam, a Calabrian monk, who at that time held the office of abbot in the Basilian monastery of St Saviour's in Constantinople, and who had visited the fraternities of Mount Athos on a tour of inspection.
This Barlaam held to be polytheistic, inasmuch as it postulated two eternal substances, a visible and an invisible God.
In 1341 the dispute came before a synod held at Constantinople and presided over by the emperor Andronicus; the assembly, influenced by the veneration in which the writings of the pseudoDionysius were held in the Eastern Church, overawed Barlaam, who recanted and returned to Calabria, afterwards becoming bishop of Hierace in the Latin communion.
While his edition was passing through the press, it was observed by the present writer that all the while the work had been in our hands in Greek, though in a slightly abbreviated form, as it had been imbedded as a speech in a religious novel written about the 6th century, and entitled "The Life of Barlaam and Josaphat."
BARLAAM AND JOSAPHAT, one of the most popular and widely disseminated of medieval religious romances, which owes its importance and interest to the fact that it is a Christianized version of the story of Gautama Siddharta, the Buddha, with which it agrees not only in broad outline but in essential details.
At this time Barlaam, an eremite of great sanctity and knowledge, dwelling in the wilderness of Sennaritis, divinely warned, travels to India in the disguise of a merchant, and gains access to Prince Josaphat, to whom he imparts the Christian doctrine and commends the monastic life.
Suspicion arises and Barlaam departs.
Subsequent researches have been carried out by Zotenberg, Max Muller, Rhys Davids, Braunholtz and Joseph Jacobs, who published his Barlaam and Josaphat in 1896.
Attacked by Barlaam, the famous monk of Calabria, he was with difficulty persuaded to come forward and meet him in a war of words, in which Barlaam was worsted.