Contextualizing a text is fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. Distancing ourselves (the act of distanciation) from our preconceived ideas of what words mean to us today whenever interpreting a text from ancient history is at times difficult, but it pays rich rewards in the hermeneutical process. Think what happens, however, when we fail to do so.
Think of the preacher, for example, who in reading his text during Sunday sermon says the following:
"Allow me to paraphrase Paul's words in Romans chapter 1: 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the dynamite of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek'" (1:16).
The preacher obviously looked up the Greek word for the English word power, dynamus, in his Greek to English index-lexicon and anachronistically substituted Paul's word for power from that root word from which--since its invention millennia later--we get our English word dynamite.
In another sermon, the same preacher did pretty much the same thing with the following verse:
And as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7,
"For God loves a hilarious giver"!
Now the Greek word for cheerful is hilaros, from which we get our English word hilarious, but the Greek root word translated into a fairly modern word is an anachronism, since hilarious came into being much, much later than Paul's hilaros.
The same could be said for the word suffer, which in the KJV version of Jesus' words,
"Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16).
Today, the word suffer means to experience mental and/or physical anguish and pain. In King James's day, it mean to encourage (positively) or not to hinder (negatively). When I was a kid, I couldn't figure out what Jesus was saying in this important verse (it's in all three synoptics) because the word suffer seemed out of place to me. "Why," I would ask myself, "would Jesus want children to suffer? I thought 'Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight . . .." I was confused anachronistically.
The same anachronistic thinking can happen in reverse in the English language, when for example we interpret the let in Jesus' "Let the little children" according to the meaning of the word to Shakespeare; namely, to hinder. I guess this is what you would call "the anachronism."
Forwards or backwards, an anachronism falls into the category of "fallacious hermeneutics" or "fallacious exegesis," since interpreting a text, especially an old text from a different context, culturally and linguistically requires the question,
"Now what did this word, as Paul used it here, mean to him in the context of A.D. 65?"
As for the "reverse" anachronism I illustrated above in the example of an earlier-English to a later-English example, contributor David, above, is on the right track regarding the domestication of camels in the ANE.
The point is, anachronistically equating Abrahams' wife Sarah's "alighting from her camel" to firing up a Camel cigarette today, is risible, but in less obvious ways we need to be careful not to fall into the nether world of fallacious exegesis when interpreting a scriptural passage.
A couple of my illustrations, by the way, came from D.A. Carson's book Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, ©1984).