Hello Pali friends,
PED gives such an article for 'jīva':
Jīva1 (adj. -- n.) [Sk. jīva, Idg. *gṷīṷos=Gr. bi/os, Lat. vīvus, Goth. quius, Ohg. queck, E. quick, Lith. gyvas] 1. the soul. Sabbe jīvā all the souls, enumd with sattā pāṇā bhūta in the dialect used by the followers of Gosāla D i.53 (=DA i.161 jīvasaññī). "taŋ jīvaŋ taŋ sarīraŋ udāhu aññaŋ j. aññaŋ s." (is the body the soul, or is the body one thing and the soul another?) see D i.157, 188; ii.333, 336, 339; S iv.392 sq.; M i.157, 426 sq.; A ii.41. -- Also in this sense at Miln 30, 54, 86. -- Vin iv.34; S iii.215, 258 sq.; iv.286; v.418; A v.31, 186, 193. -- 2. life, in yāvajīvaŋ as long as life lasts, for life, during (his) lifetime D iii.133; Vin i.201; Dh 64; J ii.155; PvA 76.
-- gāhaŋ (adv.) taken alive, in phrase j.˚ gaṇhāti or gaṇhāpeti S i.84; J i.180; ii.404; cp. karamara; -- loka the animate creation J iii.394; -- sūla "life -- pale," a stake for execution J ii.443; -- sokin (=sokajīvin) leading a life of sorrow J vi.509.
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :1810.pali
However the translation of this term in its first meaning as 'soul' strikes me as inadequate.
I would agree with the following opinion:
"In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is the immortal essence of a living being, subject to maya. A jiva that is free of maya, i.e. is not tied to a body or earthly existence in any way, is called ãtmã .
The vedic concept of jiva is analogous, but by no means identical, to the concept of soul as presented in abrahamic religions, and the Sanskrit word "jiva" is therefore best left untranslated.
Evolution of the jiva
The jiva is believed to evolve through many incarnations from mineral to vegetable to animal kingdom, its accumulated karma determining the form of the next birth taken after each death. Many traditons hold that human existence is followed by life on other planets with higher life forms and preceded by life on "lower" planets.
Jains believe that the jiva, often via reincarnation, can eventually transcend the miseries of life; thus escaping samsara, via moksha in order to accomplish this, one should strive to avoid materialism and seek to "purify" one's personal ethics -- one who accomplishes this, is a Jina (winner or conqueror).
Hindu beliefs are similar, but differ in the means of achieving moksha and in that the jiva is then believed to reside with God."