The world behind the text is a window. Through this window we look to the past, to the time of the author who produced the text, and to the time sometime earlier in which the text was set. The general approach is historical.
The world of the text (also known as the world within the text) is a picture. This picture shows us the text as it is and what it says now through its literary features. The general approach is literary.
Within the Text
The world in front of the text centres on the reader or readers. There are two types of readers. One is you, or an individual who encounters the text in our contemporary world, a context so different from the world that produced the text. Our context is the world we live in, the world we bring to the text, the world in which we read, interpret and make sense of the text.
Front of the Text
The world behind the text is what the authors perspective is and what it means to them. It asks questions about the history in the text and about the history of the text. The events presented in a text and the final step of authorship can be decades apart or even many centuries apart. The world behind the text looks at the historical, cultural and religious situation, the geography, the author, and the history of its transmission.
Behind the Text
The world of (or within) the text is examined as literature. It is shown to be the literary form or text type, its setting, structure and story line, the characters and their interactions, what the text is trying to do, the literary techniques the writer uses to convey the message and convince the reader. The tools of literary criticism assist this enquiry.
Within the Text
We are not the only readers and interpreters of a Biblical text. The second type of reader/interpreter is the Churches over many centuries because it is a living tradition. Therefore, the world in front of the text also attends to the Church’s history of interpretations and use of the text. So both us and churches have our/their own perspective of the text.