These questions showed the topics that interested members of this lay Christian community that was to give the early Church five bishops: Augustine of Hippo, Alypius of Thagaste, Severus of Milevis, Profuturus of Citra, and Possidius of Calama.
Not did questions to Augustine cease when he next lived in community at Hippo, first as a priest in the year 391 and soon afterwards as an assistant bishop to the aged Bishop Valerius of Hippo.
Augustine answered these questions from his vast store of knowledge. These questions together with the responses by Augustine were later collated by Augustine.
This probably happened in 396, soon after he had become a bishop. He then published the result as his work entitled De diversis quaestionibus octaginta tribus, (in English: “On eighty-three various questions”.)
Not that he held back from adding to his original answers any insights he had gained between the time that the questions began to be asked as early as 389 and his final answers that he published in 396.
While at Hippo, for example, preparing for priesthood and then as a priest for a few years, he had greatly deepened his understanding of the Scriptures not just for his own spiritual growth but also for his preparedness for ministry.
Part of this was an in-depth study of the Epistle to the Romans, through which Augustine experienced what could be called a new conversion.
Because completed at the end of this studious phase of ministerial inservice, De diversis quaestionibus ("Eighty-three Various Questions") is the first of Augustine’s writings to display what became the theological richness and depth that characterises Augustine's thought.
De diversis quaestionibus marks a beginning point for the maturity of Augustine’s theology. Upon completing this work, he then began a reassessment of the major events of his life, to look at them in the context of the providence of God having operated through them.
The literary fruit of this God-focused self-assessment was his greatly significant and ground-breaking written work in about the year 400, his Confessiones ("Confessions”).
The eighty-three answers in De diversis quaestionibus vary in length considerable. For example, the answer to Question 42 is only a few words, while that of Question 69 is a substantial essay.
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