The second category of interpretations employ “closed reading” focused on plot, characters, setting, discourse, structure, implied authors and implied readers in order to get at “what is in the text.” If the first category privileged the past that the text referred to as the source of meaning, the second category privileges the text itself. This category would include most literary methods like narrative, structural, and rhetorical criticism. In such cases interpreters presuppose scripture as “story,” a text that “has life all its own.” And this “living” text is able to create or conjure up communities of readers/hearers.
The third category would include readings that privilege social location. Meaning, in this category, is not located in the past or in the text, but in parts of the text that point “beyond the text” or “in front of the text”: its rhetorical features as well as all the signs of ideological tensions, whether these are socio-economic, political, cultural, religious tensions that are recognizable, despite the fact that the text seeks to suppress them, for instance by marginalizing characters, institutions, or events that would manifest these tensions. These rhetorical features and ideological tensions are textual features that point “beyond the text,” in the sense that they are recognizable by the ways in which they powerfully affect readers in situations similar to those suppressed by the text. Thus, these “in front of the text” textual features are most directly recognizable when they are activated by present-day readers. After all, interpretations are, as Mark Taylor puts it, “constructs of socially located flesh-and-blood readers.” Scripture then serves as a “mirror” that helps inform--not define--concrete life settings. Most advocacy approaches—feminist, liberationist, womanist, reader-response criticism, cultural studies, and post-colonial studies—would fall under this category.