J.B. is a 1958 play based on the modern retelling of the biblical figure of Job, starring Raymond Massey and Christopher Plummer. It was written by the American playwright Archibald MacLeish and was directed by Elia Kazan. The play opens with the characters Mr. Zuss and Nickles in discussion about Job, assuming the roles of God and Satan, respectively.
Mr. Zuss: Challenge God!
Nickles: Crying to God.
Mr. Zuss: Demanding justice of God!
No wonder he laughs. It’s ridiculous. All of it.
God has killed his sons, his daughters,
Stolen his camels, oxen, sheep,
Everything he has and left him
Sick and stricken on a dung heap—
Not even the consciousness of crime to comfort him—
The rags of reason.
Mr. Zuss: God is reasons.
Nickles: For the hawks, yes. For the goats. They’re grateful.
Take their young away they’ll sing
Or purr or moo or splash—whatever.
Not Job though.
Mr. Zuss: And that’s why.
Nickles: Why what?
Mr. Zuss: He suffers.
Nickles: Ah? Because he’s . . .
Not a bird you mean?
Mr. Zuss: You’re frivolous . . .
Nickles: That’s precisely what you do mean!
The one thing God can’t stomach is a man,
That scratcher at the cracked creation!
That eyeball squinting through into His Eye,
Blind with the sight of Sight!
Blast this . . .
Mr. Zuss: God creaed the whole world.
Who is Job to . . .
Nickles: Agh! the world!
The dirty whirler! The toy top!
Mr. Zuss: What’s so wrong with the world?
Nickles: Wrong with it!
Try to spin one on a dung heap!
Nickles: I heard upon his dry dung heap
That man cry out who cannot sleep:
“If God is God he is not good,
If God is good He is not God;
Take the even, take the odd,
I would not sleep here if I could
Except for the little green leaves in the wood
And the wind on the water.”
Archibald MacLeish, (1892-1982). J.B.: A Play in Verse.