“Whatever the character of the ministry of Jesus or the “Jesus movement” before his death, it is the experience of the transformed Jesus as Lord that begins the “Christian movement.” The resurrection is the necessary and sufficient cause of the religious movement, as well as the literature that it generated and that reveals everywhere the perception of Jesus given by the experience of his transforming power and the conviction that he “sits on the right hand of God” as Lord.
If this understanding is of the resurrection is fair to the evidence in the New Testament, and I submit that it is, then in what sense can it be called “historical?” If the resurrection were simply the matter of the empty tomb, then it would be “historical” in a straightforward way, though perhaps difficult to negotiate. If the resurrection were a matter of visions and locutions of a dead person experienced by some followers, then it would be “historical” not as part of the history of Jesus, but as part of the story of his followers, although once again hard for the historian to verify.
If the resurrection means, as defined here, the passage of the human Jesus into the power of God, then by definition it is not “historical,” in the sense of a “human event in time and space.” By definition, the resurrection elevates Jesus beyond the merely human; time and space no longer define Him—although available to human beings in time and space! The Christian claim concerning the resurrection in the strong sense is simply not “historical.” The problem in this case is, however, not with the reality of the resurrection. The problem lies in history’s limited mode of knowing. Yet, to make one final turn, the resurrection of Jesus in this strong sense can be said to be “historical” as an experience and claim of human beings, then and today, that organizes their lives and generates their activities. That is, the resurrection has a historical dimension as part of the “resurrection community” that is the Church. ”
The Real Jesus :The Misguided Quest For The Historical Jesus And The Truth Of The Traditional Gospels by Luke Timothy Johnson, 1996 HarperCollins