• George Aichele Adrian College (retired)




China Miéville, Lewis Carroll, chosen one, messiah, John the Baptist


This essay reads the stories of John the Baptist and Jesus from the gospels intertextually with China Miéville’s contemporary “young adult” fantasy novel, Un Lun Dun, as supplemented by Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. In this reading, John becomes the “chosen one” and Jesus remains the unchosen, who chooses to carry on John’s work after he fails as messiah. Just as Miéville’s story challenges “messianic” thinking and locates this-worldly salvation in the collective actions of ordinary people, so in the “ungospel” of the failed messiah, John the Baptist, Jesus saves people not by dying but by “giving his life” to them. The ungospel is manifest as an unsaid, a lurking, disturbing thought that even though little is said about John the Baptist, he still makes a better messiah than Jesus does.

Author Biography

George Aichele, Adrian College (retired)

George Aichele retired in 2008 from the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Adrian College. He is one of the co-authors of The Postmodern Bible (Yale, 1995) and author of books and articles focusing on the Bible in relation to semiotics, literary fantasy, and popular culture, including The Control of Biblical Meaning: Canon as Semiotic Mechanism (Trinity Press International, 2001) and The Phantom Messiah: Postmodern Fantasy and the Gospel of Mark (T&T Clark International, 2006).


Aichele, George. 2001. The Control of Biblical Meaning: Canon as Semiotic Mechanism. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

———. 2005. “Jesus’s Two Fathers: An Afterlife of the Gospel of Luke.” In Those Outside: Noncanonical Readings of Canonical Gospels, ed. George Aichele and Richard Walsh, 17-41. New York: Continuum/T&T Clark International.

———. 2006. The Phantom Messiah: Postmodern Fantasy and the Gospel of Mark. London: T&T Clark International.

Baum, L. Frank. 1900. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Chicago: George M. Hill.

Carroll, Lewis (Charles Dodgson). 1982a. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” In Lewis Carroll: The Complete Illustrated Works, 1-80. New York: Random House.

———. 1982b. “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.” In Lewis Carroll: The Complete Illustrated Works, 81-176. New York: Random House.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1994. Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press.

Donahue, John R., and Daniel J. Harrington. 2002. The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina 2. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.

Ehrman, Bart D. 1997. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gaiman, Neil. 1997. Neverwhere. New York: Avon Books.

Hollenbach, Paul W. 1992. “John the Baptist.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary CDROM, ed. David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday.

Josephus, Titus Flavius. 1901. The Complete Works, trans. and ed. William Whiston. Chicago: Thompson & Thomas.

Kafka, Franz. 1958. “The Coming of the Messiah.” In Parables and Paradoxes, trans. Clement Greenberg, 80-81. New York: Schocken Books.

Kazantzakis, Nikos. 1960. The Last Temptation of Christ, trans. P. A. Bien. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Lewis, C. S. 1950. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. London: Geoffrey Bles.

Miéville, China. 1998. King Rat. New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

———.2007. Un Lun Dun. New York: Ballantine Books.

Moore, Christopher. 2002. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. New York: HarperCollins.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1982. Daybreak, trans. R. J. Hollingdale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nineham, D. E. 1963. Saint Mark. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books. Plato. 1973. Phaedrus, trans. Walter Hamilton. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books.

Pullman, Philip. 1995. The Golden Compass. New York: Random House.

———. 1997. The Subtle Knife. New York: Random House.

———. 2000. The Amber Spyglass. New York: Random House.

Taylor, Vincent. 1953. The Gospel According to Saint Mark. London: Macmillan & Co.

Ziolkowski, Theodore. 1972. Fictional Trans_gurations of Jesus. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.



How to Cite

Aichele, G. (2010). Unchrist. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 3(2-3), 186–200. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v3i2/3.3.186