William Horbury, “Old Testament Interpretation in the Writings of the Church Fathers,” Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, ed. Martin Jan Mulder (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004) 768.
The importance of types and allegories in second and third-century OT exegesis did not overwhelm more literal interpretation…[L]iteral interpretation of the promises was popular. Gen 1-3 were likewise commonly taken literally, perhaps in rebuttal of gnostic views of the cosmogony as well as in accord with the hope for the last things.
In debates about Genesis 1-3 and evolution, many Christians like to assert that the church before the nineteenth century did not take the biblical account of creation literally. I think they base their argument on the existence of non-literal interpretation (i.e., allegory) of the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament as well as patristic and rabbinic writings. I’ve not read all the history of interpretation with reference to Genesis 1-3, but I think it’s wrong to claim that “the” church did not interpret Genesis 1-3 literally. Apparently, Horbury does too.