The Sanhedrin are empowered with the capability of defining a certain word or verse in the Torah through a Drasha exegesis (cf. Hilkhot Mamrim 1:3).
Firstly, does this mean that before the Sanhedrin came to reinterpret this word or verse it was understood in its literal sense? (For instance, did Ayin Tachat Ayin Mamash -eye for an eye literally- ever transpire?)
Secondly, is there a source for the idea that the Sanhedrin reinterpreted this certain verse or word from the literal translation in response to changing ethical norms and more progressive values? (Namely, Ayin Tachat Ayin was looked at as barbaric and Sanhedrin therefore solved the problem by diverting it's translation...)