What can an historical investigation hope to discover about the death, burial, and alleged resurrection of Jesus? James McGrath has an interesting article on this topic at Bible and Interpretation. Here is a pic I took a few years ago of one of the locations he discusses – the first century tombs within the complex of the Holy Sepulchre (about twenty metres away from the ‘tomb of Jesus’):
The starting point of the article is well worth considering – I think it’s absolutely right:
It is sometimes stated that the life of the historical Jesus ends with his death, and there is a sense in which this is true. Historical study can only provide access to the human life of Jesus, and his human life, like all human lives, ended when he died. The resurrection per se is not an event like other events in human history, and for this reason cannot be studied with the tools of historical study, either to confirm it or deny it. This does not mean, however, that one cannot attempt to evaluate the historicity of some of the events mentioned in the stories that also include details connected with the rise of Christian belief in the resurrection. For example, a historian can ask how strong the evidence is that Jesus was buried, or that the tomb was found empty that Sunday morning after the crucifixion. A historian can also describe the beliefs of early Christians about the resurrection inasmuch as they wrote about them, and can talk about the strong conviction that the Christians showed, indicating that they firmly believed Jesus had risen from the dead. But Christians today who have not themselves found an empty tomb or seen visions often have the same conviction, and so this evidence cannot and should not be used in a misguided attempt to “prove the resurrection.”
You’ll have to read the rest of the article to see where James himself goes from here.