Biblical Archaeology Review 15:6, November/December 1989

How Are “BAR” and “BAS” Pronounced?

By Hershel Shanks

An old friend of my mother recently returned to Florida from an extended stay in California. One of the highlights of her trip to California, she reported to my mother, was some lectures by a Dr. Horn. Knowing that the distinguished professor and dean emeritus of Andrews University, Siegfried Horn, often lectured at BAS’s vacation seminars, my mother inquired whether Dr. Horn’s first name was Siegfried. Indeed it was, she was told. The lectures were given by an organization called BAS, my mother’s friend volunteered, adding “It’s very big out there.” At first, my mother failed to recognize that her friend was talking about the organization I am associated with, because her friend pronounced it like the person one works for, “boss.” My mother pronounces it like the fish, “bass.” The two women had a good laugh when they realized that my mother’s friend was talking about the Biblical Archaeology Society.

But the problem is more serious. If we don’t indicate in writing how BAS is, as the scholars say, vocalized, archaeologists hundreds and even thousands of years from now may never know how to pronounce the commonly used acronym for the Biblical Archaeology Society, despite their in-depth knowledge of the culture that produced it.

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