"In the beginning was the word."
Translation:Am Anfang war das Wort.
This is a quotation from the Bible, specifically in the New Testament, in the gospel of John chapter 1 verse 1 which reads "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (Recovery Version) In German it reads: "Im Anfang war das Wort, und das Wort war bei Gott, und das Wort war Gott" (Wiedererlangungs-Übersetzung). I really like the Recovery version because of the commentaries which say "The Word is the definition, explanation, and expression of God; hence, it is God defined, explained, and expressed (Footnote 2). "The Word is not separate from God. It is not that the Word is the Word and God is God, and that they are thus separate from each other. Rather, the two are one; hence, the next clause says that the Word was God".
Technically "Am Anfang ist das Wort gewesen" is correct Perfekt.
But you would not saý so (even if not talking about what is written in the bible). Normally Perfekt is preferred in spoken language, Präteritum in written texts. Butr for auxiliaries and modal verbs Präteritum is preferred in spoken language, too. So it is rather "war" than "ist gewesen".