a) We have to first understand why the letter (if it is an epistle) was written. Why was it written? What was going on that prompted it to be written? What was the problem? Wrt Jesus, if Jesus told a parable, it is often in response to something someone did or said. What was the event that triggered the telling of the parable? In summary, what was the background story?
Originally Posted by RabbiKnife
b) Who were the words spoken or written in an epistle addressed to?
c) How did the recepients understand what was being said? What was happening culturally/politically/socially/historically during that time when this was said? How did their knowledge of what was going on around them, in terms of the socio-economic-political atmosphere affect how they understood what was said, from which we can deciper what the person talking is trying to say?
2. Do cultural considerations have any impact on your interpretation of a passage?
Read them with an open mind and an honest heart, willing to accept the answer wherever the evidence fell, and pray for the Holy Spirit to teach me. I suspect you are looking for an answer to do with context in which case I don't know how to answer.
3. How do you deal with passages that are seemingly "contradictory?"
Yes and no. Yes in the way that the NT affects us now as new-covenant believers and it relates directly to us. No in the way that all Scripture is God breathed, so all are true.
4. Do you believe that the passages in the New Testament are more important that the passages in the Old Testament?
No. Not if we truly believe that all Scripture is God breathed, and every single word recorded comes out directly from the mouth of God himself.
5. Do you believe that the words of Jesus take priority over the rest of the Bible?
6. Do you need to know what the original listener understood the message to be?
By spending many years studying history, ancient middle-eastern culture, and extra-bilibical writings from that era to understand the thinking and practices of the people of that time, etc.
7. If your answer to #6 is "yes," how do you go about that?
Tit 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.