Everyone recognizes the importance of the popes in the history of the Church. Too often, however, the enduring role of the general (ecumenical) councils of the Church has been overlooked. What are councils? From where do they derive their name, and how do they differ from synods? What authority do they have, and for whom? In this remarkably clear and compact introduction, Norman Tanner, a world-class authority on the councils, offers the results of years of intensive study and teaching of the ecumenical councils. With language clear enough for beginners, Tanner tells the story of councilar teaching, extneding from the early and medieval councils to the Second Vatican Council. Tanner's writing is compelling in its own right, and this concise text is a required reading for anyone interested in the history and teachings of the Church. Given recent theological and historical interest in the relationhsip between pope and council, no theological library will be complete without this convincing account of the council's historical accomplishments and their abiding importance in the life of the church.