A service was held at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Woburn. Burial will be in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.
“He was very kind and generous, and always willing to stop, give advice, and have that sort of mentoring quality,” Laura said. “He took our ideas seriously and could be very rigorous. He asked us challenging questions, but not in an aggressive way.”
She recalled that family dinner-table conversations once included a discussion about whether the author Jane Austen was a feminist.
Dr. Thiemann reveled in returning to the classroom after 13 years in administration, she said. “It was fulfilling for him. His teaching really motivated him.”
Dr. Thiemann met Beth Barkow while both were freshmen at Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, Ind. They were married 44 years.
He graduated with master’s degrees from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and Yale University. He received a doctorate in 1976 from Yale, where he wrote a dissertation on conflicting perspectives of Swiss theologian Karl Barth and German Lutheran theologian Werner Elert.
Dr. Thiemann spent 10 years on the faculty of Haverford College in Pennsylvania, where he chaired the religion department from 1978 through 1984, and served as acting provost and acting president.
He wrote several books, including “Religion in Public Life: A Dilemma for Democracy.”
Dr. Thiemann once wrote that in the world of religious discussion, he considered himself a “connected critic.”
“Connected critics are those who are fully engaged in the very enterprise they criticize, yet alienated by the deceits and shortcomings of their own community,” he wrote. “Because they care so deeply about the values inherent in their common enterprise, they vividly experience the evils of their society even as they call their community back to its better nature.”
J.M. Lawrence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.