Finding Pinocchio in the Bible
A Story Of Creation
Once there was a wise creator of beautiful things.
He filled his world with wonders wrought by his own hand and saw that they were good, but one thing he lacked. If he only had a son who could appreciate and share his beautiful creations he would be pleased.
So taking some of the leftover building materials that he had lying around, he fashioned a figure which resembled himself and he imagined what it would be like for the figure to be truly alive.
A beautiful winged spirit came to fulfill the creator's desire by giving sentience and soul to the image, making it a living being.
The created being also received the knowledge of good and evil in the form of a small conscience, which he mostly ignored.
Is this Pinocchio or Genesis?
Actually, It's both, and other parallels, aside from the creation story, can be found.
A Memorable Story
Carlo Collodi, who wrote the classic tale of the wooden-headed puppet, was born in Florence Italy in 1826 as the oldest of ten children. He was one of four siblings who survived to adulthood.
His father and mother worked as house-servants in the home of a wealthy Florentine family while their children were mostly cared for by other relatives.
Carlo's aunt, his foster parent, apparently found the energetic and imaginative boy a bit of a handful and sent him off to Divinity School. Perhaps she hoped that the priests would inspire him to a religious vocation.
A Writer's Destiny
Carlo, however, seemed destined to be a writer. He worked as a journalist, wrote political tracts, penned several plays and later began to translate French fairy tales into Italian.
Until 1875 Collodi, a sometimes witty and versatile writer, contributed to newspapers. He also wrote novels and theatrical dramas.
He published a satirical newspaper which was censored and shut down by one government, then restarted by him when the political scene changed several years later. None of his early work was considered to be especially outstanding or memorable.
Later he seemed to find his calling and some writing success in creating literature and teaching materials for children.
He became well known and respected in the educational system of the new United Italy before he finally gained wider fame with the story of Pinocchio.
Several themes in the tale seem to reflect back on his early religious education since Pinocchio's adventures have several similarities to scriptural stories.
The puppet not only represents Adam who disobeys his creator and is led astray, he also lives the experience of Joseph who is sold into slavery. The evil Stromboli put Pinocchio in a cage in much the same way that Pharaoh jailed Joseph.
The protagonist also acts the role of the Prodigal Son, wasting his life in pleasurable pursuits and nearly making a complete jackass of himself.
Later he finds himself in Jonah's unenviable predicament of being swallowed by a whale..
Finally, Pinocchio takes on the role of savior, sacrificing his life for others and ultimately being raised to a new-and-improved, living version of his old self.
Carlo Collodi 1826-1890
In the Beginning . . .
Collodi's real name was Carlo Lorenzini. His adopted pseudonym came from the name of the town where is mother was born.
Though she was a housemaid, and did not raise her son herself, she was educated as a primary teacher, and Carlo apparently regarded her highly.
Collodi first published "Story of a Puppet" in monthly installment form for a children's magazine. The first serialized version ended with Pinnocchio hanged by the neck from an oak tree.
Readers were dissatisfied with that outcome, so Collodi had the impish marionette revived. He continued the story for several months more until Pinoccio repented of his evil ways and became a real boy in the end.
The Earliest Version
Many of us are familiar with the Disney interpretation of this fanciful yarn which never claims to be true to the original writing, but rather is described as "based on Collodi's story".
As originally written, the Italian account seems much darker, more violent, less innocent, more disjointed, somewhat plodding and more meandering in it's plot trail.
It's rather like a soap opera where characters die-- or appear to die-- and then come back in a slightly different form, over and over. Some of this is probably due to the original format of being published in separate serialized segments.
In the first incarnation of this story, written in 1881, Geppetto is not so benign. In fact he is represented as a mean, ugly, irritable, impatient old man prone to physical violence. Pinocchio is not "wished into" life, he is already alive in the piece of wood before he is carved into a puppet.
From the beginning, the puppet-boy is a naughty and willful child. The cricket is killed off early by an angry outburst when Pinocchio throws a hammer at the conscientious insect to stop him from giving unwanted advice.
A Morality Tale
The author may have first written the story for adults to satirize the then-popular genre of tales designed to teach children to be obedient, truthful, humble, hard-working, obedient and studious.
He points out, again and again, how advice, preaching, punishment and parental reprimands often result in the opposite of the desired effect. In this respect, at least, the author was a bit ahead of his time.
In 1883 Collodi edited his series of stories and published " Adventures of Pinocchio" in novel form. The book began to gain the author some fame and admiration. He died seven years later at the age of 64, and did not live to see the ever growing popularity of this story which has since been printed in at least 187 editions and translated into 260 languages and dialects.
Most sources consider it to be the most translated book in the world after guess what book. Yes-- the Bible.
The cheery animated film of the story was released by Walt Disney in 1940.
If you would like to read a translation original story as penned by the 19th century Italian, you will find a 36 chapter readable rendition of it here.