As long as one abandons the common mediaeval belief that pagan gods were devils, one can allow that the true God permitted other people besides the ancient Israelites to catch glimpses of the coming Messiah. Dante's adulation of ancient Rome led him to make examples from its history prefigure Christian virtues in the Purgatorio, and Milton draws upon this tradition throughout Paradise Lost. For a discussion of such treatment of classical narrative as a source of types in The Ring and the Book, see Linda H. Peterson, "Biblical Typology and the Poetry of Robert Browning," 1977 Brown University PhD. dissertation, 183 and following.
Print version published 1980; web version 1998