Here is how Kevin McDonough describes tonight’s Shroud of Turin special on History (previously the History Channel):
If you want to see “The Real Face of Jesus” (9 p.m., History, TV-PG), you must first take in a two-hour meditation on the history, legend and meaning of the controversial Shroud of Turin.
Experts follow the trail of ownership of the shroud over the centuries and discuss its popular following. Interest in the shroud shot up in the early part of this century when an Italian photographer took a snapshot of the cloth and discovered a clear vision of a Christ-like figure in his photo negative. Are shroud followers praying to an image? Or an image of an image?
That is a bad choice of words, those last two sentences. Followers? There are countless scholars and interested people who would describe themselves as just about anything other than a follower. And, I for one, and many others that I know, do not pray to an image.
“Face” meanders into interesting territory when some experts conjecture that the shroud itself might be a kind of cosmic photo negative and evidence of what one calls “a paranormal event.” The marks on the cloth are too faint to have been made by paint or human blood and may be residue from a supernatural blast of light. Proof, some say, of the resurrection.
The final 40 minutes are devoted to the techniques and equipment used to devise a three-dimensional model of the man once wrapped in the shroud. I’ve been asked not to discuss the final, revealed likeness, but I can safely reveal that he looks nothing like Jeffrey Hunter, star of the 1961 epic “King of Kings.”