After thinking about the Antioch incident, I have come to the conclusion that the two questions of (1) James’ role and (2) the identity of the circumcision party are in all events less crucial for the interpretation of the incident than many have admitted. I have come to this view for two reasons.
In the end, I don’t think the Antioch Incident provides much useful information for our understanding of James. The story does not emit a quantity or quality of evidence needed to develop an understanding of James’ role in the event and I think this fact needs to be more readily acknowledge by interpreters. There is no reason to assume James was apprehensive about the Gentile mission in Antioch such that he sent a delegation to investigate. The text says neither that the “men from James” actively pressured Peter “to draw back” from associating with Gentiles, nor that James sent them for this purpose.