This book is notable in being the first substantial account of the development of the Christian Church from the standpoint of the laity. In the past church history has been written almost entirely in terms of the ordained clergy, councils, theological debate, and missionary expansion. Laymen have been regarded as not essential in any of these terms, and largely ignored or taken for granted. In the rising stream of contemporary writing about the laity, this is the first Protestant attempt to survey church history from the point of view of the layman, and to interpret present trends, especially the ecumenical movements, with respect to the layman's status and calling. The editors, long active themselves in World Council Laity Department affairs, have enlisted a group of scholarly contributors, preponderantly Anglican but inclusive also of Continental and American theologians. The first eight chapters survey the Church's development through two millenia, the layman gradually emerging as an identifiable figure. The remaining seven chapters deal with the place of the laity in modern times, in the major branches of Christendom. Not all the questions now arising about the status of the laity are resolved in this survey, but the book fills a much-needed place as historical foundation for study group discussions of these matters.