A jaw assembly is provided with a pair of jaws which are closed with a flexible, tension member that is pulled by the operator of the instrument. In a preferred embodiment, one of the jaws is pivotally mounted in a slot to the other jaw. A cord, having a loop configuration, is attached to the pivoting jaw and can be pulled to pivot the jaw closed. A second cord can be provided to initially hold the proximal end of the pivoting jaw away from the other jaw until the distal ends of the jaws are closer together. In another embodiment, jaws can be closed in a parallel orientation by rotating two pulleys with threaded shafts engaged with the jaws.