By Chelsea Schilling
© 2010 WorldNetDaily
The world will have an extraordinary opportunity to look upon what may be an undistorted, never-before-seen, moving 3-D portrait of a man
who many think may be the crucified Jesus Christ.
In just one week, graphic experts will bring to life an imprint on the holy relic known as the Shroud of Turin, believed by millions to
be the burial shroud of Christ.
Ray DOwning of Macbeth Studios and scientist John Jackson analyze image of the Sroud
of Turin (photo courtesy of the History Channel)
The Shroud of Turin bears the full-body, back-and-front image of a crucified man that is said to closely resemble the New Testament
description of the passion and death of Christ. The 14-foot cloth long
has posed mysteries because of its age and its negative image of a
bloodstained and battered man who had been crucified. Believers claim
it to be the miraculous image of Jesus, formed as he rose from the
The History Channel will air "The Real Face of Jesus?," a special two-hour event that premieres March 30 at 9 p.m. EST. It aims to bring
the world as close as it has ever come to seeing what Jesus may have
actually looked like.
Computer graphics artist Ray Downing of Studio Macbeth used today's most sophisticated electronic tools and software in a yearlong effort to recreate the face imprint on the Shroud of Turin.
"The presence of 3-D information encoded in a 2-D image is quite unexpected, as well as unique," Downing said. "It is as if there
is an instruction set inside a picture for building a sculpture."
Negative image of a man's face as it appears in the Shroud of Turin (photo courtesy of the History Channel)
He told WND some scientists debate whether 3-D information is provided in the shroud.
"It's so unusual to find this kind of information – in ancient cloths, photographs, paintings, drawings and etchings – it's so unusual
that some think it's a miracle and some doubt it's even there," he
said. "The people who say it's not there haven't examined it for
themselves. Disbelievers disbelieve it. Believers think it's a miracle
3-D computer image of body based on information found on the Shroud of Turin (photo: History Channel)
Downing used similar computer graphics techniques in 2009 to create moving images of Abraham Lincoln in "Stealing Lincoln's Body."
He said in "The Real Face of Jesus?," viewers will learn how artists
used the technology to build the figure.
"There comes a time in the show where there's a climax where we actually reveal the face of Jesus," he explained. "What you'll see
is a very, very close shot of Jesus in the tomb, and then he comes to
Downing said there are two lessons within the story of the shroud.
"There is the story of the shroud which, artistically and scientifically, is the story of a transition from two dimensional to
three dimensional. But there is as well the story of the man in the
shroud, and a record of His transformation from death to life," Downing
observed. "The two stories are intertwined; they seem to be one and the
(Story continues below)
In 2009, Downing and the History Channel traveled to see John Jackson, a physics lecturer at the University of Colorado at Colorado
Springs who runs the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, to learn more about the science of the cloth from the man who has studied it first-hand.
In 1978, Jackson led a team of American scientists which was given exclusive access to the Shroud of Turin for five days of
intensive scientific examination. Jackson has continued his analysis of
that data until the present time.
Shroud of Turin
"People are so fascinated by this because there's a real possibility that this might be the historic burial cloth of Jesus,"
Jackson told WND. "If it's the burial cloth of Jesus, then it would
also be the resurrection cloth. Suddenly, you have a physical object –
here we are 2,000 years later – that conceivably could just bring us
right into the Easter tomb."
Jackson said the shroud shows all the blood wounds that are recorded in the gospels. Among Jackson's findings he cited:
"It would seem that it's pretty unique," Jackson explained. "Crucifixion was done quite a bit in the Roman Empire. It
was their way of controlling the population that they wanted to
subjugate. But the crown of thorns, according to the gospel accounts,
was something that was invented for Jesus because of his claim of being
King of the Jews. He was also scourged as well. There was no record
that the other two men who were crucified along with Jesus had it
happen to them."
Jackson said generations upon generations of people have passed on the shroud, and much of the information about the origins of
the burial cloth was not passed along with it.
"So you just have a degradation of what you know about this cloth," he said. "So you have to rely upon scientific archeology of the
cloth to bridge over some of that ignorance and tie things together."
The cloth is in the custody of the Vatican, which stores it in a protective chamber of inert gases in Turin's Cathedral of St. John.
History reveals it was exhibited in France about 1360 by Georrfrey de
Charney, a French knight who owned it then.
The Catholic Church in Turin, Italy, will exhibit the Shroud of Turin from April 10 through
May 23, the fifth public exposition since 1898 and the longest in the
shroud's modern history. Jackson is preparing to embark on a pilgrimage to see the Shroud fr....
The official website created by the Archdiocese of Turin for this year'... estimates 2 million people will travel to Turin to view the shroud. Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit the shroud May 2.
"The shroud is not shown every other weekend," Jackson said. "If you look at the 20th century, it was only shown four times: 1931, 1933,
1978 and 1998. That's, on average, about once every 25 years."
3-D profile of face depicted in Shroud of Turin (photo: History Channel)
While the shroud was also shown in 2000, it was to celebrate the new millennium.
"I didn't expect the shroud to be shown again in Italy until about 2025, so about once every generation," he said. "Suddenly, we
have the shroud being shown 10 years after the last time, so that's an
opportunity that people might really want to consider taking because
it's not going to be out next year. It may be 2035 before it's ever
shown again, if you follow the averages of the last century."
Jackson has organized pilgrimages to see the shroud twice before. On his tour, he seeks to educate people about the shroud rather than simply capturing a glimpse of the cloth.
"We will bring own computer capability, and we will show just to our group what we think about the shroud in a lot of different ways," he said.
Jackson said he will explain the tablecloth hypothesis – or the idea that the shroud was the tablecloth at the Last Supper before
it was used as a shroud. He'll also discuss its relevance to the
resurrection and radio carbon dating, among various other topics of
"When we take people to the shroud, we want them to have a pretty good idea of what they're looking at so they can appreciate it
more," he said. "I've been at this for 35 years and Rebecca, my wife,
for 20 years. We want to take 55 years of thinking about this cloth
from different perspectives and help people understand it the way we
Even after the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project subjected the shroud to scientific analysis, how the image was formed on the
14-foot-long linen cloth remains a subject of debate. The theory of the
shroud being Christ's burial cloth took a serious blow in the late
1980s when scientists including those at an Oxford University
laboratory performed the age-dating process on a fragment of the
material and came up with the results that it was no older than the
13th or 14th century, more than a millennium after New Testament times.
But Jackson later reported he had convinced Prof. Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, to
test his hypothesis that carbon monoxide contamination could have
skewed the test results by more than 1,000 years.
Ramsey later stated, "There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates
allow and so further research is certainly needed."
Computer graphics artists use Shroud of Turin images to create 3-D figure of
crucified man (photo courtesy of the History Channel)
As for the History Channel documentary, "The Real Face of Jesus?," Downing said at the end of the show viewers will see something
rather exciting and unexpected.
"There's a revelation concerning the nature of the encoded information itself," Downing said. "It's a discovery that's going to be
there. It doesn't disprove the shroud. It's quite the opposite. It
demonstrates that the shroud image is a result of a natural process."
He added, "It witnessed an actual physical event that Christians have come to call the resurrection.".