Relatively few chapters on the monastic life in Adomnán’s Vita Columbae (VC) quote Scripture or cite scriptural parallels directly; those that do provide such aids to interpretation often point beyond the literal letter of the biblical text or parallel to the traditions in which Scripture was understood in the early Insular world. What distinguishes the work is the skilful and often innovative way these insights are conveyed through narrative, yet not as allegory or parable. The present essay examines one such episode, in the light of examples from some of the exegetical, hagiographic and monastic traditions with which Adomnán was familiar. It is offered as a small tribute to a distinguished scholar and generous colleague whose foundational study on the monastic familia of Columba has done so much to extend our understanding of the contexts and significance of Adomnán’s work. 1