An example of how postcolonial criticism has brought insights to my reading of the biblical text is seen in how the Gospel of Matthew presents Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus. The author of Matthew goes out of their way to depict the key local figurehead of imperial power with an aura of innocence and his wife as having a halo (Matt. 27:19, 23–24). Musa Dube observes that Pilate is “absolved from the guilt of crucifying Jesus” and his wife is “characterized as a divine instrument who receives dreams regarding the innocence of Jesus.” Indeed, Pilate is implicitly depicted as recognizing the innocence of Jesus (vv. 11–23), yet he still has Jesus flogged and tortured (v. 26). While these characters are treated delicately, the mother of the key victim of imperial power—Mary the mother of Jesus—goes unnoticed. So why the focus on Pilate and his wife?
Looking at this question through a postcolonial hermeneutic provides a convincing answer: by employing the notion of ambivalence—which refers to the conflicting desires of the colonized to be both attracted to and revolted by the colonists, thus vacillating between clear mimicry of the colonist, on the one hand, and the hybridizing of the colonists and colonized, on the other—the author’s portrayal of Pilate is an ambivalent way of showing that the Christian community is not a threat to the Roman imperial order, yet this order is still an adversary.
This example (and there are innumerable others) demonstrate that postcolonial biblical criticism is an appropriate means for tackling the intricacies that emerge from colonialism. This is true not just for New Testament studies, but also for the Hebrew Bible. For example, Uriah Kim has provided a postcolonial reading of 2 Kings 22-23 in which he argues that a postcolonial hermeneutic of the Bible is to see the history contained therein as the “history of the other”, which he uses to show that the Deuteronomist’s story is to provide a unifying “history of their own” for Judah and Israel in resistance to the Assyrian hegemony.
By utilizing concepts such as mimicry and hybridity, postcolonial biblical criticism is able to offer up a means for understanding the development of identities that have been shaped by colonialists. Mimicry, as the term suggests, is a repetition of colonial behaviors and attitudes by the colonized that blurs the lines that would normally distinguish the colonists and the colonized. This is tied in with the idea of hybridity which denotes that the resultant identity is a mixture, not an exact replica. Those who have been colonized in some form or another may very well internalize the attitudes of the colonizers, and it is a postcolonial lens that supports the struggle for liberation by assisting in changing the ways in which the colonized reflect upon and judge themselves.
In my studies, postcolonial biblical criticism has made me aware not only of the colonial setting of the text and the colonial reception history of the text, but also how one’s own global context impacts one’s reading of the Bible. For instance, over the past decade the issue of the United States’ imperial power has been renewed in the public square due to the long foray into Iraq. Having lived here in the United States since 2008, it is clear to me that for many who were born and raised in the United States, the narratives of “American exceptionalism” and “American innocence” undercut the ability for national self-reflection, even leading to the point where any effort to contemplate the colonial and imperial history of this nation is an affront to (and assault on) this nation’s supposed Christian heritage. Donald Pease provides discerning remark about “American exceptionalism”:
The disparity between the United States’ imperial policies and the refusal to acknowledge them bears powerful witness to the power of the doctrine of US exceptionalism which authorized the refusal. US exceptionalism is a political doctrine as well as a regulatory ideal assigned responsibility for defining, supporting, and transmitting the US national identity.
This all goes to show that while the Bible may have indeed exerted a considerable influence in the history of the construction of the American identity, this by no means promises that the general populace will be able to critically view their country’s involvement with colonialism and imperialism critically in light of the biblical narratives.
 Musa W. Dube, ‘Go Therefore and Make Disciples of All Nations’, in Fernando F. Segovia and Mary A. Tolbert (eds), Teaching the Bible: The Discourse and Politics of Biblical Pedagogy (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1998), pp. 224–246 (p. 231).
 Uriah Y. Kim, Decolonizing Josiah: Toward a Postcolonial Reading of the Deuteronomistic History (Bible in the Modern World, 5; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2005).
 Donald E. Pease, ‘US Imperalism: Global Dominance without Colonies’, in Henry Schwarz and Sangeeta Ray (eds), A Companion to Postcolonial Studies (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 203–20 (p. 203).