Grenfell Tower and the EU: a North-Booker red herring (1/3)

Christopher Booker has argued (1 July 2017, also here)  that our EU membership has been a contributory factor to the Grenfell Tower disaster. He claims that a Commons committee, set up to investigate the fire risks of cladding on multi-storey blocks, had wanted to replace the European standard EN 13501-1 with the British standard BS 8414, but had been unable to, because of the former standard’s mandatory status in the EU:

Again, as his conclusion, he argues that:

if only full compliance with the BS 8414 standard could have been made mandatory  … that fearful conflagration would never have happened.

This is putting a great deal of responsibility for the Grenfell disaster on our EU membership, an assignment of blame which I believe is entirely misplaced.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower and the EU: a North-Booker red herring (1/3)

Grenfell Tower: was the cladding legal or not (part 3)?

In my previous two posts (part 1, part 2) I have outlined the two routes offered by the Building Regulations 2010 Approved Document B (Vol. 2) at B4 (‘External Fire Spread’) to meet the statutory requirement that:

The external walls of the building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls…

The first route, also sometimes called Option 1, or the ‘linear option’, is to satisfy the requirements of paragraphs 12.6 to 12.9. With regard to the fire properties of materials used in cladding systems for buildings over 18m in height, the requirements are in brief:

a) 12.6. External surfaces should be UK Class 0 OR European Class B or better. The relevant UK tests are BS 476-7 and BS 476-6. The European tests are EN ISO 11925-2 and EN 13823. All four tests are surface tests.

b) 12.7 Insulation products should be of ‘limited combustibility’. They should pass EITHER the BS 476-11 750º C furnace test OR the EN ISO 1182 750º C furnace test OR the EN ISO 1716 calorific test. These are combustibility tests.

The second route, also sometimes called Option 2, is for the entire cladding system to pass a large-scale test to BS 8414.

I will now describe the fire properties of the main two components used in the cladding system at Grenfell Tower, and discuss whether they could satisfy the Approved Document B4 requirements, through either of these two routes.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: was the cladding legal or not (part 3)?

Grenfell Tower: was the cladding legal or not (part 2)?

In my last post, I pointed out the statutory requirement, contained in Article B4(1) of Schedule 1 of The Building Regulations 2010, that:

The external walls of the building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls…

I then began to examine the guidance given by the government in Approved Document, Volume 2, at the corresponding part B4, as to how this statutory requirement can be met. Two alternative routes to compliance are given in Section 12.5:

In my last post also, I examined the provisions of paragraphs 12.6 to 12.9 and in particular of 12.6 and 12.7 which concern the fire properties of the materials used in construction. I explained that, for buildings over 18m high:

a) The requirement of 12.6 can be satisfied if the materials are UK Class 0. This classification can be achieved through satisfactory performance in two UK fire tests, BS 476 part 7 ‘Surface Spread of Flame’; and part 6 ‘Fire Propagation’. In both of these it is the surface of the board or panel that is subjected to assault by fire.

b) The requirements of 12.7 appear to apply to insulation products only.  The materials must either survive trial by a furnace at 750° C, or have a calorific value of less than 3 MJ/kg. I argue that no material with a substantial component of a polymer like the PIR of the Celotex boards, or the PE of the Reynobond panels, could possibly pass these tests.

In this post I describe the BS 8414 fire test, which is offered as an alternative route to compliance at paragraph 12.5. In following posts I plan to:

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: was the cladding legal or not (part 2)?

Grenfell Tower: was the cladding legal or not (Part 1)?


Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, claimed on the Andrew Marr Show on 18 June 2017 that the cladding that was used on Grenfell tower is banned in the UK:

Was he right?

I will argue here that, from a practical point of view, this flammable cladding cannot legally be used in the UK on buildings over 18m in height. It is not that there is an explicit ban on the material. It is more that there is no way that it could ever meet the requirements of the Building Regulations, at least as interpreted by the standard industry guidance. From a practical point of view, it is not a marginal question. Aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene core are highly combustible and should never be used on high buildings. If, as has been reported, these panels are in place on other tower blocks, they should be removed immediately, or the residents evacuated.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: was the cladding legal or not (Part 1)?

Psalm 89 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’ (part 1): making interpretive decisions for the reader

Psalm 89.27 (28 in the Hebrew bible) reads:

אַף־אָ֭נִי בְּכֹ֣ור אֶתְּנֵ֑הוּ עֶ֝לְיֹ֗ון לְמַלְכֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃

Here are a few translations into English:

Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. [KJV]
I also will make him [my] first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth. ASV
And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth. RSV
“I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. NASB
And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. NIV
Also I will make him my firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. NKJV
I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. NRSV
And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. ESV

The differences between the translations are fairly minor. The NIV has ‘appoint’ rather than ‘make’. Several have ‘my first-born’ rather than ‘the first-born’, but all of these except the NIV mark ‘my’ with italics or square brackets to show that it is not in the original text. The KJV has ‘higher than’ the kings of the earth, rather than the ‘highest of’ the kings of the earth.

In Brian Simmons’ book ‘The Psalms: Poetry on Fire’, however, this verse has been changed into something very different:

I am setting him apart, favoring him as my firstborn son. I will make him like unto me, the most high king in all the earth!

According to Simmons, God seems to describe Himself as ‘the most high king in all the earth’, and say that He will make someone (‘him’) like Himself, particularly in this aspect of being the highest king in the earth. But who is this someone, in the original, and in Simmons’ version?

Continue reading Psalm 89 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’ (part 1): making interpretive decisions for the reader

Psalm 78.41 in the Passion ‘Translation’: did Israel wound ‘the Holy One’ as Brian Simmons pretends?

Psalm 78.41 reads:

וַיָּשׁ֣וּבוּ וַיְנַסּ֣וּ אֵ֑ל וּקְדֹ֖ושׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל הִתְווּ׃

The NASB, as an example of a normal translation, reads:

Again and again they tempted God,

And pained the Holy One of Israel.

The NKJV reads:

Yes, again and again they tempted God, 

And limited the Holy One of Israel.

with a very different meaning for הִתְווּ (hīṯwû) in the second part of the verse. We will see that there is a genuine difficulty in ascertaining the meaning of the word.

The ASV reads:

And they turned again and tempted God, 

And provoked the Holy One of Israel.

Here, the translators have rendered וַיָּשׁ֣וּבוּ (wayyāšûḇû) with ‘and they turned again’ rather than with ‘again and again’. The verb שׁוּב (šûḇ) in its Qal form as here, can mean ‘turn back’, ‘return’, but it can also mean ‘do repeatedly’, so either way of translating is within the lexical range of the word.

psalm 78.41 in the ‘passion translation’

In the ‘Passion Translation’, however, Brian Simmons has this verse as:

Again and again they limited God, preventing him from blessing them. Continually they turned back from him and wounded the Holy One!

We seem to have a new and previously unknown messianic prophecy, conjured out of thin air, so to say. Israel wounded the Holy One, according to Simmons. Is there any justification for translating the verse in this way?

Continue reading Psalm 78.41 in the Passion ‘Translation’: did Israel wound ‘the Holy One’ as Brian Simmons pretends?

Psalm 44.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘translation’: ‘command deliverances for Jacob’ or ‘decree majesties for Israel’?!

In my last three posts I have looked at three cases in the Psalms where Brian Simmons, in his so-called ‘Passion Translation’, has erased all mention of Jacob. In Psalm 47.4, it is no longer Jacob whom God loves but, apparently, ‘us’, likely the Christian reader. In Psalm 147.19, Simmons has the psalmist apparently speaking of another people of God, apart from Israel. And in Psalm 14.7, he appears to replace the salvation of Israel with the rescue of the poor! Shame on him for changing the holy scripture. I do pray for him that he would realise the great harm that he is doing and repent. I happen to believe that he is sincere and means well, but has been deceived into thinking that God Himself has called him to translate the holy bible. He seems to be partially aware of his lack of scholarly capability as a bible translator, since he apparently said in response to criticism of his work on amazon.com that:

I do not claim to be a “scholar” of the original languages.

It appears that he deleted this comment ten days later, but that it was then retrieved and posted on Holly Pivec’s blog. It carries exactly the same date and time of posting:

as the record of a deleted comment that is still visible on Amazon:

Praise the Lord, who leads us into all truth, and guards His holy people from heresy.   I have nothing against Brian Simmons personally. My reason for pointing out the gross errors and distortions in his so-called translations is that sincere Christians, including young people in particular, are reading them believing them to be the true word of God, translated as accurately as possible from the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts, when in fact they are nothing of the kind. The faith and Christian life of these believers is thus being put in peril through the actions of this very foolish man.

Continue reading Psalm 44.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘translation’: ‘command deliverances for Jacob’ or ‘decree majesties for Israel’?!

Psalm 14.7 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: who does he think he is?

Psalm 14.7 reads:

מִ֥י יִתֵּ֣ן מִצִּיֹּון֮ יְשׁוּעַ֪ת יִשְׂרָ֫אֵ֥ל בְּשׁ֣וּב יְ֭הוָה שְׁב֣וּת עַמֹּ֑ו יָגֵ֥ל יַ֝עֲקֹ֗ב יִשְׂמַ֥ח יִשְׂרָֽאֵל׃

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad. [Psalm 14.7, NASB]

Alternatively, as Alexander represents it, with בְּשׁ֣וּב intransitive, as its form indicates it should be: 1

Oh may Israel's salvation (soon) come forth from Zion, in Jehovah's return to the captivity of his people! (In such a restoration) may Jacob (soon have reason to) exult and Israel (to) triumph!

What a wonderful cry from the heart that God would visit His people again, and restore them to freedom out of captivity. Personally, I see in it a Messianic hope and expectation that the Saviour would come and redeem His people. Moll speaks of ‘the Messianic hope which is active here’ 2, and Spurgeon writes on this verse: 3

Amen to that, since even if I am not personally inclined to understand Israel to represent the church here, it may do so in type and shadow I think.

Continue reading Psalm 14.7 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: who does he think he is?

Notes:

  1. J. A. Alexander, ‘The Psalms’, Vol. I (New York: Baker & Scribner, 1850) p. 107. Support for Alexander’s view may be deduced from its addition as a supplementary comment by Charles Briggs to C. Moll, ‘The Psalms’ (New York: Scribner et al., 1872) at p. 114.
  2. C. Moll, ‘The Psalms’ (New York: Scribner et al., 1872) p. 114
  3. C. H. Spurgeon, ‘The Treasury of David, Vol. I (London: Marshall) p. 164. Link.

Psalm 47.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: Jacob replaced by ourselves in God’s affections

Psalm 47.4 reads (BHS):

יִבְחַר־לָ֥נוּ אֶת־נַחֲלָתֵ֑נוּ אֶ֥ת גְּאֹ֨ון יַעֲקֹ֖ב אֲשֶׁר־אָהֵ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃

Let’s take this one word at a time:

יִבְחַר  (yiḇḥar) is the third person Kal imperfect of בָּחַר  (bâchar), to ‘test’, ‘select’, or ‘elect’. 1

לָ֥נוּ   is made up of the preposition לְ  (lamed) which, among many other uses, can signify the dative of advantage (Holladay, §7, p. 168), ‘indicating the person for whose … advantage an action is performed’; and נוּ  (nû) the 1st person plural pronominal suffix, ‘us’. So, ‘for us’.

Continue reading Psalm 47.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: Jacob replaced by ourselves in God’s affections

Notes:

  1. English equivalents are from William L. Holladay, ‘A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament’ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) unless otherwise stated.

Psalm 147.19 in Brian Simmons’ ‘Passion Bible’: Israel displaced by the Christian church

The name יַעֲקֹב  (Yaʿăqōḇ, Jacob) occurs thirty-four times in the Psalms.  Each of these occurrences is translated as Ἰακώβ in the Septuagint. 1 Each is translated as Jacob in the Clementine Vulgate. Each is translated as Jacob in the King James Version, in the New American Standard Version, in the English Standard Version, and even in Eugene Patterson’s book ‘The Message’.

In Brian Simmons’ ‘translation’ of the Psalms, however, the name Jacob occurs just seventeen times, exactly half the number of occurrences in the original text. For example, in Psalm 147.19, which reads in the original (BHS):

מַגִּ֣יד דְּבָרֹו לְיַעֲקֹ֑ב חֻקָּ֥יו וּ֝מִשְׁפָּטָ֗יו לְיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

and in the NASB:

He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.

Brian Simmons has:

In the same way, he speaks to his people and to Israel, bringing them his life-giving words.

In the original, there is only one people in view, the people of Jacob, the people of Israel, to whom God speaks and gives His holy law. Simmons replaces ‘Jacob’ with ‘his people’, and distinguishes this people of God from Israel by inserting the conjunction ‘and’. He thus reverse engineers, so to say, the Christian church back into the Psalm, displacing Israel as God’s people. This is really outrageous and ought to be stopped, with Simmons’ book being removed from publication.

Andrew

Notes:

  1. Ἰακώβ occurs also in Psalm 97.3 (98.3) LXX, making a total of 35 occurrences in the Septuagint.