The english word bible comes from the greek word βιβλια, biblia, to the greeks meant "book" and refers to any book.
Christianity uses the term bible, or "holy bible", to refer to certain compilations of writings which the various denominations of the christian religion consider as the basis for it's existance and beliefs. This bible is traditionally categorized into two sections, the old testament and the new testament, for the purpose of distinguishing the Jewish writings, which the christians see as the basis for the christian texts, from the christian writings.
The term "canon" is used to describe the groupings of books which are considered to be official christian texts of proper authenticity. Different denominations have different sets of books which they consider canon, but most of the books of any one set appear in all of the sets.
The following Jewish books do not appear in all canon sets: 1 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Odes, Wisdom, Sirach, Psalms of Solomon, Baruch, and Letter of Jeremiah. Each of these books appear in the old testament section, for the canons which adopt them.
Just as there are books of the “old testament” which are not considered canon by all christian groups, there are also “new testament” writings which are considered to be of dubious authenticity, a complete listing of which can be found at Comparative Religion along with electronic reproductions of the texts.
Message of the bible
Despite the numerous attacks against the christian religion and a large dislike among non-christians for certain aspects of christianity as it is presented by the christians, the majority of these attacks seem to be against the christian people or the acts performed by the christians rather than the bible itself, though there are still a fair number of criticisms against the message(s) portrayed by the bible.
Even without these external criticisms, there seems to be a confusion among christian followers regarding the message(s) portrayed by the bible bringing into sharp debate issues such as the neccessity of baptism, faith with and without works, the divinity of Jesus, and the possibilities of miracles in today's world as well as such inane things as whether instruments should be used in worship, and whether christians can be homosexual or even practicioners of magick.
Because various portions of the bible discuss many varied topics it is sometimes difficult for christians to remember the base message of the entire bible, which is love and obediance. Throughout both the old testament and the new testament the topic of obediance is clearly illustrated through the stories portrayed and through the supposed words of Jehovah (literally in the english alphabet JHVH or YHWH, and יהוה in the hebrew alphabet). To many readers the topic of love in the old testament is overshadowed by Jehovah's destructive and commanding natures but is one of the most expounded upon topics in the new testament, drawing the arguement from outside sources that the “jewish god of the old testament” is completely different from the “christian god of the new testament” and should be viewed as two seperate entities altogether.
As a spiritual text
Regardless of whether you believe in the historical validity of the new testament of the bible there are many today, even among non-christians, who see the new testament as a great spiritual guide due to it's continual portrayal of the need for humans to take on qualities such as love and morality.
However, the old testament is continually overlooked as a spiritual guide, once again probably due to the overshadowing by Jehovah's “less spiritual” natures, with the exception of the book of Ecclesiastes which is viewed by some as a book of wisdom.