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Finding Pinocchio in the Bible

I have am interested in how Biblical Scripture has often influneced Western literature. It's found in stories for children and adults.

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.

Taking some of the leftover building materials that he had lying around, he fashioned a figure which resembled himself and he imagined what it might be like for the figure to be truly alive.

finding-pinocchio-in-the-bible

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 newly 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 if we look closer, 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.

Wikipedia Commons posted by "Mrkgrd"

Wikipedia Commons posted by "Mrkgrd"

A Writer's Destiny

Carlo, however, seemed destined to be a writer rather than a priest. He worked as a journalist, wrote political tracts, penned several plays and later began to translate French fairy tales into Italian.

Until 1875 Collodi, who was 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 in his country 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 soon 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.

Sistine Chapel ceiling  painted by Michelangelo. Wait, is it Adam - or  the  puppet?

Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo. Wait, is it Adam - or the puppet?

Biblical Themes

Several themes in the tale seem to reflect back on his early religious education since Pinocchio's adventures have many 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

finding-pinocchio-in-the-bible

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 installments for a children's magazine. The first serialized version ended with Pinnocchio hanged by the neck from an oak tree.

Readers who had possibly identified with the main character were dissatisfied with that outcome, so Collodi revived the impish marionette. He continued the story for several months more until Pinoccio repented of his evil ways and became a hero and 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.

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 weekly segments. It was apparently not written completely, before being serialized

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 in the tale by Pinnochio's angry outburst when he 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.

Comments

Belinda on August 06, 2020:

This story was very interesting and to relate it to the bible was something l wouldn’t see this,l loved reading this and the art work very good. Well done

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on August 10, 2011:

Thanks prarieprincess, but I only pointed out the ties. I think Collodi was aware aware of the connections. Or perhaps he just had the bible stories deeply drilled into him. Glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks to you too, tipoague. I was glad to share it. I had thought of some of the connections, but when I researched, I found even more.

Tammy from USA on August 09, 2011:

Facinating hub! I never looked at the story of Pinnochio from this point of view. I am glad you shared this. Thanks!

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on August 09, 2011:

I love it! I did not know about the dark history of Pinnochio. I love how you tied it in with Biblical themes. So very true! Great hub that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 20, 2011:

You can find almost anything, if you keep looking.

YESH on March 23, 2011:

I was in the Bible too, so was Mickey Mouse.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 24, 2009:

Thanks, RNMSN. Collodi made the tale very convoluted and complex, but I think the roots still show. Good vs evil-- is there a great story that doesn't touch on the theme?

Barbara Bethard from Tucson, Az on July 24, 2009:

didactic tales; aren't they wonderful? I think if it were ever possible to live near-ly crime free authors would still find ways to re-write the basic good vs evil issues...that's what helps, I believe, to keep humans tethered to a some thing greater than ourselves...whatever we perceive Him/Her to be. wonderful writing Rochelle thank you!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 16, 2009:

Absolutely. The stories are universal.

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on May 16, 2009:

Was discussing LOST on a forum today and people were commenting on the Biblical themes. In fact much of literature gets inspiration from the Bible, and the conflict between good and evil.

LondonGirl from London on May 16, 2009:

Rochelle, there's a whole world of things I've never thought of, sadly, and reading great articles like this one helps!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 12, 2009:

Thanks for commenting, Shalini.

Shalini Kagal from India on May 11, 2009:

Didn't realise that was the background to one of my favourite childhood tales! And yet, the connection is so obvious - maybe that is why one relates to Pinocchio - there's something so human about him! Great hub - thanks!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 11, 2009:

Wow, I am surprised that so many people are surprised. I have been keeping this obvious information to myself for years. Thanks for the comment.

No I'm not on facebook, I don't even twitter-- though i signed up today.

C. C. Riter on May 11, 2009:

Hmm, I never knew. I never even considered it so. I can see it all now of course after reading this wonderful hub. gee thanks

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 11, 2009:

Thanks- all of youse....

London Girl-- I know you do a lot of research on your hubs. I'm surprised that i posed something you have never considered. I couldn't find any net references to Pinocchio and creationism, but I thought that part was evident.

Teresa-- It is very kind of you to comment on a subject that didn't have personal appeal. You are a loyal fan. (appreciation noises in the background.)

Uninvited-- thanks. I had thought about the paralells fo a long time--  but doing the background work took more time than I planned for.

When I was younger, attending a Christian church , I used to wear  necklace charm with  a little strutting Pinocchio on it. Most ladies wore a cross. I had some 'spainin' to do.

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on May 11, 2009:

Excellent hub. Very interesting parallels.

Sheila from The Other Bangor on May 11, 2009:

Interesting. This story never appealed to me; maybe the biblical underlay is the reason.

LondonGirl from London on May 11, 2009:

Fascinating hub - I'd never considered religious connetations, and I was very interested to read this.

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