Understanding ancient texts

Recently we visited a historic home, about 200 years old. I tried to read some of the old written documents displayed in the home. Although written in English, it was difficult to understand. The writing, the language, and the usage was different. 

The text of the Bible is over 2,000 years old. The current translations are modern renditions of ancient language, styles, and usage. But since the context of our times is so far removed, we need to be careful how we interpret. 

Here are three clues for interpretation. First, ask what it meant to the original readers. To do this, learn about their culture, usage of language, customs, manners, religion, politics, history, and much more. This is a gradual, ongoing process. 

Second, find the overarching principle. A principle transcends time, culture, and language. It’s for everyone. It may be themes such as: show respect for others, love unconditionally, forgive, etc. 

Third, apply that “principle” to today. Give practical steps to obey the principles from that text. 

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